Jan Sangarsh Morcha Press Release
  06 November 2002
Save The Narmada, Save Humanity!

Jan Sangharsh Morcha to organize Bijli Bachao - Azadi Bachao Yatras
through the state in protest against the proposed electricity tariff hike;
CAG finds that MPSEB has wantonly wasted Rs. 70 crores

NARMADA BACHAO ANDOLAN
Jail Road, Mandleshwar
District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 07283-33162
Email: nobigdam@sancharnet.in
SHRAMIK ADIVASI SANGATHAN
Near Bohra Masjid, Betul, MP
Tel: 07141-33971

The Jan Sangharsh Morcha will organize Bijli Bachao - Azadi Bachao yatras from the 15th to 30th November 2002 all through the state in protest against the electricity tariff hike recently proposed by the Madhya Pradesh government. These yatras will culminate with a massive rally in Bhopal on the 30th of November. The Jan Sangharsh Morcha demands that the current anti-people tariff petition filed before the Madhya Pradesh Regulatory Commission should be immediately withdrawn. The Jan Sangharsh Morcha also demands that the loan agreement executed by the Madhya Pradesh government with the Asia Development Bank through the aegis of the Central government must immediately be scrapped.

The Jan Sangharsh Morcha expresses shock that no less than the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has commented in its recent report of 2001 that there have been losses totaling almost Rs. 70 crores in the various stores belonging to the MPSEB. It is clear that the incompetence of the MPSEB cannot be visited upon the consumers.

It may be noted that the Madhya Pradesh government has recently filed a tariff hike proposal before the Madhya Pradesh Regulatory Commission. This is in compliance with the conditions of the loan agreement executed with the Asia Development Bank that requires that a tariff petition be filed before the disbursement of each instalment of the loan. If this proposed tariff hike which ranges from 1.5 times for domestic consumers upto 6 times for farmers is accepted by the Regulatory Commission, it is clear that the farmers and workers of Madhya Pradesh will be pauperized, traders will be wiped out, small and medium industries and power loom workers will collapse and domestic consumers will not be able to withstand this tariff shock, plunging thousands of homes into darkness.

Even a cursory analysis of the second tariff petition filed by the state government reveals that if the Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board had only complied with the orders given by the Regulatory Commission last year, and had brought down the transmission and distribution losses, improved the efficiency of the plant, as well as recovered large debts, they would have been able to raise Rs. 3000 crores of revenue and there would be no need for this proposed tariff hike which seeks to raise an additional revenue of Rs. 999 crores, at all.

As per the Clause 31 of the Madhya Pradesh Urja Sudhar Adhiniyam, the orders of the Madhya Pradesh Regulatory Commission are final and binding on the Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board. Therefore it is amply clear that the non-compliance of the MPSEB in not meeting its orders regarding debt recovery, plant efficiency and T&D losses is in flagrant contempt of the Regulatory Commission. It is also clear that the losses that have resulted from this non-compliance cannot be thrust upon the consumer in the shape of increased electricity tariffs. It is in this context that the Jan Sangharsh Morcha demands that the second tariff petition filed by the state government must be withdrawn and the MPSEB should be compelled to comply with the previous orders of the MPSERC to improve its performance.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) finds irregularities :

The CAG of India has noted in its report of year ending 2001 that losses amounting to Rs. 70 crores has resulted due to irregularities in the purchase, maintenance and management of supplies and stores. At the same time, it may be noted that the poorest 10.5 lakh consumers of Madhya Pradesh receive a subsidy of only Rs. 35 crores for their single point connections from the MPEB, which the MPSEB is forever bemoaning.

Struggle in protest against the Tariff petition begins

Strong protests against this tariff petition proposed by the Madhya Pradesh government have already begun . On the 26th October, last month fifteen thousand people gathered to oppose this tariff hike proposal under the aegis of the Malwa- Nimad Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan at Mandleshwar. On the 27th of October, 5000 adivasis and peasants demonstrated against this proposal. During the public hearing, on the 29th of October, 1500 farmers raised their voices against the proposal in front of the Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Regulatory Commission. It may be noted that 1304 objections had been filed in front of the Regulatory Commission from the rural area of Indore division alone.

The Jan Sangharsh Morcha intends to intensify this struggle in the coming days by organizing "Bijli Bachao - Azadi Bachao yatras" from the 15th to 30th November 2002 all through the state in protest against the electricity tariff hike recently proposed by the Madhya Pradesh government. These yatras will culminate with a massive rally in Bhopal on the 30th of November.

This yatra will ensue from Indore and will travel through Dewas, Ujjain, Ratlam, Dhar, Badwani, Khargone, Khandwa, Harda, Betul, and Hoshangabad to reach Bhopal on the 30th of November. The other yatra will travel through Katni, Shahdol, Balaghat, Dindori, Mandla, Seoni, Chindwada, Narsinghpur to reach Jabalpur. Apart from this other supporting groups will organize yatras through Gwalior, Bhind, Morena and Guna districts. Programs will also be held in the remaining districts of Madhya Pradesh. Farmers, workers and the common people of Madhya Pradesh will demand the withdrawal of anti-people petition throughout these yatras.

The Jan Sangharsh Morcha reiterates its demand that the current anti-people tariff petition filed before the Madhya Pradesh Regulatory Commission should be immediately withdrawn. The Jan Sangharsh Morcha also demands that the loan agreement executed by the Madhya Pradesh government with the Asia Development Bank through the aegis of the Central government must immediately be scrapped. The so-called power sector reforms must be stopped and real and positive changes in the power sector must be effected after wide consultation with the common people of Madhya Pradesh. The Jan Sangharsh Morcha warns the Madhya Pradesh government that popular struggle against this proposal has already begun and if the state government continues to increase the electricity tariffs at the instance of the Asia Development Bank, then the struggle will be intensified and this tariff hike will prove to be very costly for the state government.

Alok Agarwal, NBA
Suresh Verma, Shramik Adivasi Sangathan