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Power, one of the basic amenities of life happens to be a matter of great concern for the citizens of Delhi. Faulty meters, power shortage and inflated power bills are the most common grievances faced by every other citizen. This being the situation, I decided to spread awareness among the masses about how the Delhi Government works hand in glove with the power companies to promote their respective interests than work together in the interest of the public. Apart from organizing protests and rallies, I initiated the Bijli Adalats to redress the grievances of the public.
The Bijli Adalats addressed the power related grievances of people like the widespread corruption in obtaining a meter connection and faulty billing. I ensured that all the applications for new meters got accepted immediately. Power companies like BSES Central & East Delhi Distribution Company who always attended these Adalats, were directed to rectify the faulty bills and provide relief to consumers who wanted to pay their dues in installments. I also ensured that the Delhi Vidyut Board executed all the pending government approved power-related projects quickly.
We conducted Padyatras in Chandni Chowk to understand the power related grievances of the people there. I received reports on unscheduled power cuts, discrepancies in billing, unattended power cables and unattended power poles that sadly continue to affect the citizens even today. The Delhi Government initially endorsed the idea of power privatization as a remedy to all power issues but despite years of privatization, the power situation in the capital has worsened instead of showing any improvement. . In addition to this, under the guise of power privatization, the Government made way for the unscrupulous growth of the private sector through repeated hikes in power tariff. Also, the Government failed to deliver on their promise of starting new power generation plants. I warned the government that we will resort to severe agitations against the power crisis if they failed to take immediate steps to improve the power situation.
The crisis was not limited to power cuts or shortage. People who had access to electricity also suffered from erratic meters and inflated bills. In fact, the Consumer Advocate Committee of the Delhi Government also admitted that the electricity meters ran faster than the permitted limits.
Several incidents that came to light showed that the power companies had their own way in power distribution. Power loss, inflated bills and irrational power cuts became the norm of the day. In 2005, I led a delegation of aggrieved citizens and met the then Union Energy Minister P M Syed asking him to intervene and cancel the agreement with private companies. Fast meters, power shortage, inflated bills, offering subsidy in rates and reducing power companies' profit margins were a few of the points discussed in the meeting. But soon after, a heavy power tariff hike was announced in Delhi. We carried out a march with lanterns, candles & lamps to protest against the hike in power rates in protest. But the government refused to roll back the hike saying it was necessary.
Seeing no remedial action from the government, I launched a 15-day Padyatra from Chandni Chowk highlighting the suffering of the citizens due to the power and water tariff hike. Throughout the Yatra, I made the people aware of the camaraderie between the Government and the power companies and the resultant uncontrolled power tariff hikes. I asked the government to review and make public their agreement with the power companies and sought special audit of these companies. My stand was further corroborated by the Parliament's standing committee on energy who pointed to the dubious role played by the Regulator in hiking the power tariff. The report even mentioned an incident where the Regulator forced NDPL to bring in a 10% hike for domestic power. When BSES raised the demand for 10% hike before the regulator, NDPL said that it didn't find any reason to hike the power tariff. Undeterred, the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) sanctioned a tariff hike to BSES and the Tata's without NDPL asking for the same. As a result the consumers suffered for no reason.
The Padyatra was not limited to exposing the questionable acts of the Delhi government but also provided relief to the citizens through Bijli Adalats, I brought together a few power company representatives and made them review the discrepancies observed in the old and new bills received by the consumers. I appealed to the people and residents' welfare associations to register their grievances and join the protest against the power issue. As a result, the Padyatra saw people turning out in thousands across Delhi. We also dispersed information hitherto unknown to the public. Information on how the power distribution companies had no authority to ask the consumers to pay their pre-2002 bills. Also how a person who admits to power theft faces imprisonment for a period of only 3 months subject to the repayment of the bill amount discounted up to 60%. As people became aware, the agitation gained momentum forcing the government to bow down to public sentiment and rollback the hike. However, the roll back didn't come without favoring the DISCOMs. The Delhi government rolled back the 10%hike, but on the pretext of checking the DISCOMs losses, offered a 5% subsidy to them. This was seen by many as an act of generosity but with the tax-payer's money the move was so wrong that even 24 MLAs of the Congress party itself objected publicly to the decision of offering subsidies.
Though the tariff hike was withdrawn, the issue of fast meters and faulty bills persisted. I recommended the continuance of mechanical meters instead of the newly installed 10 lakh meters that were reported to run faster. I also organized a marathon under the Lok Abhiyan with a theme to run faster than the electricity meter in protest against the quality of the meters. I informed the people that the power sector of Delhi was privatized in 2003 through a legislation which asked the power companies to cut down their deficit in 5 years. However, let alone cutting down the deficit, the power companies continued to show losses despite the hike in power tariffs, The DERC was setup for addressing the problems of harassed consumers but the commission is serving the interests of the distribution companies and not the public.
I appealed to the Lt. Governor of Delhi to intervene and stop the power companies from fleecing the Delhi consumers. As a follow up to this, I organized a Janta Adalat to gather further complaints from the people in the matter and continue the agitation till today.
I was pleased to see your reply. You are the first politician who care what his supporter wants and reply in a very humble manner. It's very praise worthy. My all best wishes for upcoming election. It's a changing moment of history.
Sir, it's a request to you kindly raise the issue of unalloted plots to DDA Rohini 1981 scheme. We are waiting for it for 33 years as well as 25000 families are waiting too but DDA has given just paper assurance. Kindly look into the matter sir.