West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee may have gone to the extent of telling people how she had done everything but beating up Prime Minister to protest against Centre's anti-people decisions like hike in fertiliser prices, but West Bengal government has now quietly allowed the state-run power distribution company to hike its charges by about 26 per cent over the last one year in four installments.
The state-runWest Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL), has decided to impose a monthly variable cost adjustment (MVCA) of 11 paisa for its customers effective from current billing cycle, taking the average tariff for its customers to Rs 5.93. In fact, state power utility has imposed a higher MVCA this time compared to CESC. The RP Sanjiv Goenka group company, which supplies power to 2.6 million customers in Kokata and adjacent areas, too has imposed MVCA of 8 paisa, taking the average tariff to Rs 6.17.
The monthly variable cost adjustment was introduced last year as per West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission (terms and conditions of tariff) Regulations 2011. Under the MVCA concept, tariff is being adjusted on a monthly basis based on changes in cost factors. The provisional MVCA, however, is subject to approval of West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission, by the end of financial year.
This is the fifth increase in tariff since the Mamata Banerjee government too over in May, 2011.While the first increase was from Rs 4.27 per unit to Rs 4.71 per unit, for which the previous government was responsible for, the Banerjee government has allowed it to increase from Rs 4.71 to Rs 5.07 and then from Rs 5.07 to Rs 5.53 in January and February last year. Later, it was hiked to Rs 5.82, which will be now revised at Rs 5.93.
This means Mamata Banerjee-government has so far effectively increased the power tariff by Rs 1.22 ( from Rs 4.71 to Rs 5.93) or 25.9 per cent.
While CESC officials cited "rising fuel cost and possibility of further increase in coal prices", more than the hike, WBSEDCL seems to be happy with signs of Mamata Baneerjee- led government "realistic approach".
"Finally government seems to be realising the need to increase tariff. Although we will have to go a long way to make the utility profitable, these are welcome signs from the state government," an official in the state power utility said.