People should cut use of power if they cannot afford the high electricity tariff, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said on Sunday, a prescription that evoked criticism.
Under attack for the hike in power tariff, Dikshit also sought to justify it, saying the increase in the cost of power production has led to the rise in electricity rates.
Stating that the consumers will have to pay if they want round-the-clock electricity supply, Dikshit went on to say that if people are finding it difficult to pay the billed amount, they they should cut down power consumption on various electrical appliances.
"We have been supplying power round-the-clock. We are not supplying power periodically. When 24-hour supply is ensured then the opposition says the bill is too high. If you consume electricity for 24 hours, then you do not pay for five hours' consumption. If you cannot afford the electricity bill, then cut down your consumption of electricity. Future generations will never realise there used to be seven to eight hour power cut in Delhi," Dikshit said while addressing a meeting at Chhatarpur area in south Delhi.
"If somebody is finding it difficult to pay the bill, then he can use a fan instead of a cooler. One can always cut down consumption of power to limit the bill," she added.
Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party president Vijay Goel has accused the chief minister of 'favouring' discoms and ignoring the alleged corruption in these power distribution companies.
"She (Dikshit) is favouring discoms. There is mass corruption in electricity by the discoms but Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, instead of checking it, is giving statements about electricity being used by poor people," Goel said.
The BJP has been targeting the city government on the issue of hike in power tariff and accused it of siding with the private power discoms.
"This is a very unfortunate statement from the chief minister of Delhi. In Delhi, the electricity prices are not increasing because of increased production cost," Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal said.
"How can you expect the people to stop using TV, refrigerator, washing machines which they have become essential items today? The electricity prices are increasing only because of the corruption of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in collusion with electricity companies," he said.
The power tariff in the city was hiked by 22 per cent in 2011. It was again increased by 26 per cent for domestic consumers in July last year. It was again hiked by up to three per cent from February 1.