| Jan Sangarsh Morcha Press Release
|| 01 December 2002
Massive Electricity Tariff hike declared by Regulatory Commission an attack on public interest, Loot of the people of Madhya Pradesh at the behest of ADB
NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
SHRAMIK ADIVASI SANGATHAN
Near Bohra Masjid, Betul, MP
Preparation for state wide struggle
The increase in electricity tariffs announced by the Regulatory Commission last evening ranging from 30% for domestic consumers to 67% for farmers paying at flat rate is inhuman and unacceptable. It is clear that this tariff hike is an attack on public interest, and the loot of the common people of Madhya Pradesh that will be a consequence of this tariff hike in accordance with the conditions set by the Asian Development Bank. This tariff hike declared by the Regulatory Commission last evening also exposes the hollow claims of the Government of Madhya Pradesh that it would reduce the tariff proposal made by the MPSEB. The Jan Sangharsh Morcha condemns this tariff hike done at the instance of foreign financial institutions who want to loot the country and demands that the state government should file a review petition to withdraw the tariff increase. The Jan Sangharsh Morcha declares that it will begin a state-wide struggle against this tariff hike and destructive power sector reforms that are being brought into Madhya Pradesh, and that has endangered the entire economy.
While the Madhya Pradesh Regulatory Commission has ordered and increase of nearly 30% for domestic consumers throughout the state, as per its orders, farmers paying at flat rates will have to pay 67% more. Power loom workers will also have to pay 50 % more. It is surprising that such huge increases should be made after tariffs had been increased by 20% only last year. It is also extremely disturbing that the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission has disregarded the fact of the complete non-compliance of the First Tariff order by the Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board. It may be recalled that the MPSERC had passed the First Tariff order in November 2001. In this order, it had directed the MPSEB to recover arrears, an outstanding of nearly 1000 crores from the 1500 HT industrialists in the state, to increase the Plant load factor up to 71%, and to decrease the T&D losses to 42%. But the Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board was able to decrease the existing T&D loss of 51 % only up to 49%. It was able to increase the PLF only up to 62% instead of 71%. It has also failed to recover the arrears. Had the MPSEB only functioned as had been ordered in the First Tariff Petition, there would have been no need for this proposal to increase tariffs to mobilize Rs. 999 crores. It would have been appropriate if the MPSERC had upheld Section 26 of the Vidyut Sudhar Adhiniyam 2001 which stated that tariff increase could take place only at an increasing and adequate level of efficency, taken cognizance of this non-compliance by the MPSEB and had rejected the petition for increased tariffs on these grounds, but the MPSERC chose not to do so, thus demonstrating that the MPSERC orders are only for the consumers, and not for the MPSEB.
It is thus amply clear that all 65 lakh LT consumers will be badly affected by the tariff order. The state is already facing the impact of four years of drought and farmers are facing an adverse market due to the removal of quantitative restrictions in the import of agricultural commodities and the removal of subsidies in fertilizers and pesticides. This will push the farmers, workers and the common people of this state and the state economy over the edge and destroy it altogether.
Loot of common people on orders of Asia Development Bank
It may be noted that it is a clear condition of the agreement executed by the Government of Madhya Pradesh with the Asia Development Bank that the electricity tariffs will be increased before every instalment of Rs. 720 crores loan. In fact it was per the conditions of the Asia Development bank that this tariff petition was filed before the MPSERC in September 2002. Thus it is clear as per the facts, arguments and the law that any tariff increase for consumers for this financial year is completely unnecessary and unjustified Yet, these massive increases in tariffs have been wrought in order to obey the writ of the Asia Development Bank. This tariff increase is clearly a part of a foreign conspiracy and is loot of the people of Madhya Pradesh at the instance of the Asia Development Bank.
False claims of the State Government exposed :
It may be recalled that only a few days back, in response to the people's anger after the tariff petition was filed, it was reported that the state government had taken a decision in the cabinet to ensure tariff increase of only 10%. The people of the state were lulled into believing that the tariff increase would only be 10%. However the state government was not in earnest and therefore it did not give its rejoinder to the petition on affidavit as was required. The fact that the MPSERC has increased tariffs from 30 % up to 70 % clearly shows that the state government had made false claims about its representation to the MPSERC, and was merely attempting to fool the people.
State wide Andolan to be launched
The Jan Sangharsh Morcha, during the Bijli Bachao - Azadi Bachao yatra it undertaken in the last fifteen days from the 15th to 29th November and in its rally of the 30th November brought out that this tariff increase is being undertaken as part of a foreign conspiracy and is a thinly disguised attempt to dismantle and destroy the economy of the state. This illogical and unjustified tariff increase has only confirmed it.
The Jan Sangarsh Morcha is planning to move the Courts after studying the order in toto. It is also planning a state wide movement against this tariff rise. The Jan Sangarsh Morcha regards that the present tariff increase indicates the submission of elected governments before foreign financial institutions, and warns that the people of this state will not accept this destruction and foreign slavery at any cost. The Jan Sangharsh Morcha demands that the state government must immediately file a review petition before the MPSERC to withdraw this tariff hike. it states that it will wage a state wide struggle against this tariff hike and compel the state government to take back this tariff hike petititon.