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Ramakanta Biswas

Even as the State government has not filed any review petition over the power tariff hike, effected in April this year, a fresh proposal by the Odisha Hydro Power Corporation Ltd (OHPC) to increase the energy charges has triggered massive protest across the State. 

The OHPC on July 28 has proposed to the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) to increase its average power generation tariff to 95.36 paise per unit from the existing 89.28 paise per unit. 

While the OERC has already begun hearing on the plea,Opposition BJP, Congress party and the Odisha Electricity Consumers' Association have strongly opposed the move. The Opposition and the consumer association contended that if Grid Corporation of Odisha (GRIDCO) purchases electricity from OHPC at higher rate, it will collect higher tariff from consumers through various power distribution companies (discoms).

Babu Singh, president of BJP Bhubaneswar Organisational District said, “The BJP has hit the street as the Odisha government has hiked power tariff by 50 paise per unit. We warn the government to reconsider the decision. Otherwise we will intensify the protest and do whatever needed to unseat the government.”     

“We had filed review petitions against the tariff hike and we strongly protested the move during the hearing by the OERC. At this juncture, what is the need for the State government to make another proposal to hike average power generation tariff? It is a well-planned conspiracy to hike the power tariff,” alleged Odisha Electricity Consumers' Association President Ramesh Satpathy. 

Earlier, the OHPC had proposed to OERC for an average generation tariff of 93.39 paise per unit for 2020-21 financial year. However, in the tariff order effected from April this year the OERC had fixed the power generation tariff at 89.28 paise per unit. 

Subsequently, the power hike issue rocked the State Assembly prompting the State government to assure that it would file a review petition before the OERC to reconsider the hike. 

In his statement in the State Assembly, Energy Minister Dibya Shankar Mishra said the government will urge the OERC to reconsider the hike in energy charges.

While the government has not filed the review petition even more than four months after the assurance, the fresh appeal of power generation company OHPC has irked the Opposition BJP and Congress.

BJP spokesperson Dillip Mohanty said, “Though Odisha is producing surplus electricity, the State government wants its people to purchase power at a higher tariff. This is anti-people decision by the government.”

“In order to quell the protest, the State government had lied that it would file review petition on the tariff hike. We condemn the anti-people act of the government and will launch massive protest in the coming days,” said, Nishikant Mishra, Congress spokesperson.

Meanwhile, members of the BJP took out a protest march to the Odisha Assembly today opposing the hike in electricity tariff in the State. A scuffle broke out between the protestors and police personnel during the agitation.

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