The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today condemned the unbearable and inhuman burden put on the common man with repeated hikes in power tariff and demanded a complete roll back even as it called for removing all hidden charges to ensure power to industrial sector at landing cost of Rs five per unit.In a statement here, former minister and senior SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia said the latest increase of Rs 2.17 per cent in domestic power and an increase in fixed charges by Rs 10 per kilo watt would break the back of the common man who was still reeling under the burden of huge increase in electricity bills ever since the Congress government took up the reins of the State. He said even in the case of the industrial sector, the Congress government had gone in for a two per cent increase in power tariff besides increasing fixed charges by Rs 10 to Rs 15 per unit. “This proves that the Congress has systematically lied and deceived the industrial sector by making promises to supply power at flat cost of Rs five per unit”, he added.
The former minister said the latest increase coupled with repeated increases in power tariff and electricity duties had resulted in a 15 to 18 per cent increase in domestic power tariff in the last one year. “Earlier in October last year the government effected a nine to twelve per cent increase in domestic power tariff in one go with retrospective effect from April 2017. A municipal tax equivalent to two per cent of the electricity bill was also imposed last year. Electricity duty has also been increased by two per cent last month”.Mr Majithia said this was not all. Domestic consumers were being levied fixed charges on electricity consumption whether they consumed power or not. “Scheduled caste consumers are being harassed and forced to pay astronomical bills even as the partial free power facility to backward castes has been withdrawn”.Speaking about the industrial sector, the Akali leader said it seemed that nothing was sacrosanct for the Congress government. “It has repeatedly gone back on cabinet decisions as well as announcements made in the Vidhan Sabha.
The government has failed abysmally in ensuring landing cost of power is Rs five per unit for industrial sector. It continues to increase tariff and fixed charges besides coming up with various kinds of variable tariffs which will kill small industries that are already passing through a challenging phase”, he added.Mr Majithia said power tariffs were likely to increase further in coming months with imposition of four new taxes on the anvil. He said the Punjab Social Security Bill, 2018 which was slipped in surreptitiously at the last minute in the budget session has stipulated a five per cent surcharge on monthly electricity bills. He said besides this it would also result in a surcharge of Rs 2 per liter on both petrol and diesel, surcharge equal to one per cent of the value of new vehicle and a ten per cent increase in excise duty as well as license fee on liquor and liquor vends.The Akali leader said the SAD would fight against the imposition of these inhuman taxes tooth and nail and would come out with an agitation programme soon.