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Power suppliers frown upon BJP's promise of free power
Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru | April 25, 2008 01:26 IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party's decision to supply free power to farmers with irrigation pumpsets may bring a smile on the faces of many. But for the Electricity Supply Companies (ESCOMS) in Karnataka, it is nothing short of a nightmare.
The ESCOMS, which are already reeling heavily under a financial deficit of Rs 2,000 crore, are set to lose Rs 800 crore a year if the BJP is voted to power and goes ahead with the decision to supply free power.
The BJP, in its manifesto, which was released on Thursday, has promised free power to farmers with irrigation pumpsets in Karnataka if voted to power in the state.
At present, there are 16 lakh pumpsets in Karnataka, which accounts for 27 per cent of the power consumed in the state. Farmers with pumpsets pay 54 paise per unit consumed as against the normal tarrif of Rs 4 per unit, an official at the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company told rediff.com.
The officials also said that the recovery from these farmers is not too good and amounts to only 10 per cent of the power consumed by them.
Moreover, the state government has been granted an annual subsidy of Rs 1,800 crore to cover the revenue loss which was being incurred due to subsidised tariffs for those with pumpsets, the officials say.
Karnataka at present is reeling under a severe power crisis. The ESCOMS across the state have decided to shut of power in rural areas up to 5 to 6 hours a day. They say that it is not possible to shut of power in Bengaluru as the city accounts to 40 per cent of the revenue of the state and for every unit of power consumed in Bangalore, Rs 6 is earned, according to BESCOM officials.
Karnataka on the whole has a 15 per cent shortage of power. Officials say that they need to generate at least another 4,000 Mega Watts of power to break even. At present, 135 million units of power is being consumed across the state everyday while the state has been able to produce just 80 million units of power everyday.
Thanks to the power shortage in the state, the government is purchasing power from other states and also private companies in Karnataka. In all, an amount of Rs 3,900 crore is spent annually to purchase power in order to break even.
The BJP, in its defence, says that these issues will be looked into and they have included free power supply in their manifesto after a considerable amount of discussion. B S Yeddyurappa, former Chief Minister of state and BJP leader, says that they would generate more power in order to break even. If a BJP government is formed then they would ensure that 10,000 Mega Watts of additional power is generated in the state of Karnataka.