CHANDIGARH: In a major setback for Industries, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PowerCom) has increased the electricity rates by 50 paise per unit. Industries will now get electricity at the rate of Rs 5.50 per unit. It will be implemented with an annual increase of three percent for the next five years. Power will be available at an increased rate from April 1.
After getting approval from the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission, Powercom has issued a circular and instructed the officials to implement it. PowerCom had sent a proposal to the Regulatory Commission to make domestic electricity more expensive. However, permission has not been received yet.
In its proposal to the Regulatory Commission, Powercom had argued that it would have to buy expensive power and coal from outside to meet the rising demand in the state. Due to this the expenses have increased a lot but the revenue is not obtaining accordingly. The burden of electricity subsidy is on continuous hike. With all these arguments, PowerCom sent a proposal to the Regulatory Commission seeking permission to increase electricity rates.
On the other hand, the PSEB Engineers Association has justified this move of the Regulatory Commission. According to the association, the economic hardship will be solved to some extent with the increase in Powercom's income. Along with this, the burden of electricity subsidy on the government will also be reduced. About one and a half lakh industries of the state will be affected due to the increase in electricity rates. The government has given subsidy of Rs 2669 crore to these industries during the current financial year. In this, a subsidy of 189 crores has been given to small industries, 289 crores to medium industries and 2191 crores to large industries.
Rohit Bansal, head of Patiala's Focal Point Industry Association, said, "The industry is already going through a period of recession. If the government wanted to increase the rate, it should have been notified three months in advance. Due to this, industrialists will face huge losses, Punjab government should reconsider its decision."