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Cong MLCs walk out over power tariff hike

power transmission

Mumbai: Chaotic scenes were witnessed in the Legislative Council today as the opposition Congress staged a walkout over the state government’s proposal to further hike power tariff by 8 per cent.

Dismissing the Congress’s protest as “politically motivated,” Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bavankule said the proposal for new tariff is pending before the state Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) for hearing and government cannot intervene in the matter at this stage.

“We have completely waived off three-month power tariff of farmers. But we cannot reduce the electricity bill of consumers for now as the proposal to hike tariff is pending before MERC. Once it takes a decision, the state government will intervene if required,” Bavankule said.

He said the new electricity tariff with the rise of 20 per cent came into effect from April 1 when the Congress-NCP government was at the helm.

“The BJP government has only stopped the subsidy as it was burdening the state exchequer. We have proposed the hike of only 8 per cent,” he said.

Unsatisfied with the minister’s reply, Congress Group Leader Manikrao Thakre accused the BJP government of being responsible for “imposing a 28 per cent hike in tariff on consumers.”

“The last government had spent Rs 800 crore towards subsidy on power tariff to reduce the burden on consumers. The new government not only ended that subsidy but also proposed a tariff hike of 8 per cent. This way, industries will lose interest in Maharashtra,” Thakre said.

“Even as rates of coal and oil have come down, the (power) tariff is still high. The hike (in tariff) cannot be sent directly to MERC without approval of government,” he added.

While replying to Thakre, Bavankule said though coal prices are reduced, the impact will only be seen from next year and until that happens, the government cannot reduce electricity rates.

Enraged over the reply, the Congress MLCs staged a walkout.

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