Text of KCSDS petition to SERC for redress of valley consumers

KL Report

SRINAGAR

A valley based Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS) has filed a Petition for redress of grievances for Irrational and discriminatory Power Curtailment schedule enforced by Power Development Department in the valley to the Chairman, J&K State Electricity Regulatory Commission, Jammu.

Following is the text of the petition.

In the matter of:

May it please you Sir,

Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS) as an active civil society in the valley is deeply concerned at the gross violations and desecrations of the orders and directions issued by J&K SERC from time to timeas a result of discriminatory and irrational curtailment schedule enforced unilaterally by Power Development Department since November besides unprecedented and unscheduled power cuts affected by them over and above this unilateral schedule. The unscrupulous exploitations of valley consumers in contravention of the rules and laws enacted under the J&K Electricity Act and the Consumer Protection Act has brewed strong anger and resentment among the consumers. Over past fortnight there have been number of protests across the valley against the pesky power cuts and also against the illogical and unreasonable justifications given by the authorities of PDD for such cuts. It is in this context that KCSDS has decided to file a formal petition with your august body and submit as under;

1.      That on 2nd November, 2013 the Power Development Department (PDD) announced a revised power curtailment schedule for Kashmir valley in which scheduled power cuts in metered and non-metered areas have been increased to 17 and 57 hours per week respectively.

According to the fresh curtailment schedule unmetered areas have been subjected to one night-long cut (10 PM to 5 AM), two evening cuts (6 PM to 8 PM and 8 PM to 10 PM alternatively), four afternoon cuts (1 PM to 6 PM), three forenoon cuts (8 AM to 1 PM) and two morning cuts ( 5 AM to 8 AM) in a week.

The metered areas have been subjected to one night-long cut (10 PM to 5 AM), one evening cut (6 PM to 8 PM and 8 PM to 10 PM alternatively) one afternoon cut ( 1 PM to 6 PM), one forenoon cut (8 AM to 1 PM) and morning cut ( 5 AM to 8 AM) in a week.

2.      The Power Development Department has even miserably failed to adhere to the unilateral curtailment schedule announced by them despite assurances given by various authorities of PDD including Chief Engineer.

3.      There have been some irrational and irresponsible statements made by various authorities of PDD besides some politicians which has given notion that consumers of the valley generally resort to ruthless power thefts and are also irregular in their payments towards electricity dues.

The fresh scheduled and unscheduled power cuts affected by the department have sent shockwaves to theconsumers in the valley andthe move has triggered anger and resentment against the department. As a responsible civil society, we venture to file the following objections in response to above three points before the esteemed Commission.

Objections to point No 1.

a)      Any proposed curtailment schedule should have been made part of the tariff petition filed by PDD before J&K SERC so that the same was approved, partly or fully, by the Commission duly after hearing to the public objections in this regard.

While disposing off a petition filed by KCSDS last year J&K SERC had observed the following;

“J&KSERC has been persistently insisting on giving wide publicity to the curtailment schedule for the information of general public through electronic and print media and also for including the tentative curtailment schedules in the retail tariff petition each year for J&KSERC to put it in the public domain along with the gist of retail petition before public hearing. Such a mechanism would have kept all categories of consumers pre-informed about the availability of the electricity in the State and the curtailment schedule to be enforced during the ensuing year.”

b)      The fresh curtailment schedule affecting long power cuts in the unmetered areas are unjustifiable and unlawful as it not only violates the basic principles of J&K Electricity Act but also the orders of J&K SERC issued from time to time.

Even if some curtailment in the power supply becomes Inescapable for the department, still any schedule of curtailment issued is required to be non-discriminatory in nature for all regions in the entire state apart from that the schedule needs to be approved by J&K SERC.

c)       That the state government in order to make transition from unmetered to metered regime had offered 100% uninterrupted power supply to those consumers who cooperated in installation of meters. As such the utility is committed to provide 100% uninterrupted power supply in the metered areas in consonance with the assurances of the government. J&K SERC in their tariff and other orders from time to time have also emphasised need for respecting this commitment in order to promote a complete transition from unmetered to a  metered regime.

While making it obligatory on the part of utility to provide uninterrupted supply in the metered areas, J&K SERC is on record to have directed,” that providing uninterrupted supply in metered areas would induce unmetered consumers to come forward for getting meters installed in their premises”.

Objections to point No 2.

a)      Despite the assurance given in his statement  by the Chief Engineer PDD Kashmir that the “unilateral” schedule announced by them shall be adhered to in letter and spirit, people of the valley  over past more than a month have witnessed unprecedented and unscheduled power cuts. There have been scores of protests by people across the valley over these curtailments and the reports of the power crises repeatedly surfaced in the local print and electronic media. However, instead of taking any curative measures, the Power Development Department is increasing the power cuts with each passing day.

b)      It has been observed that the power supply to consumers in unmetered areas has dropped to less than 50%. In such circumstances, the consumers should also be made liable to pay only 50% of the electricity tariff of their agreement.

Objections to  point No 3:

a)      The comments made by some politicians attributing theft and non-payments of electricity dues to the consumers of valley alone are most disgusting and painful. Understandably these politicians raise such issues at the indications given by some officials of PDD. The KCSDS strongly refutes to such charges on the basis of following facts;

i)       Despite the fact that the valley witnesses the harshest curtailment schedule both in the metered as well as unmetered areas, the domestic consumers in Kashmir on an average have been paying more tariff than domestic consumers of Jammu region over the years.

During the financial years 2008-09, 09-10, 10-11,11-12, 12-13 and 13-14 (up to ending October, 2013), the revenue realization in the domestic category of consumers in Kashmir region has been 74.67 crore, 99.39 crore,122.02 crore,179.79 crores, 238.89 crores and 146.12 Crores respectively in comparison to 52.67 crore, 63.06 crore, 83.21 crores,112.86 crores, 154.87 crores and 106.14 realized in Jammu region.

In past six years out of total revenue of Rs. 1433.69 Crores realized from domestic category of consumers, Kashmir region has paid Rs.860.88 Crores as against Rs.572.81 Crores by Jammu region.

For last 7 months (from April 1 to October 31), domestic consumers of Kashmir have paid Rs.146.12 Crores in comparison to Rs.106.14 Crores by Jammu Consumers.

The monthly average revenue paid by a domestic consumer of Kashmir has constantly been more than a domestic consumer of Jammu. Although Kashmir has more consumers (667541) in the domestic category as compared to Jammu region (608695), yet the average tariff per consumer per month stands at Rs 182.41 in the Valley in comparison to Rs 145.31 in Jammu up to ending October, 2013.For last financial year 2012-13, the average tariff per consumer per month stands at Rs.322.08 in the valleyagainstRs.245.29 in Jammu.

According to the census report 2011, the state has nearly 20.15 lakh households out of which about 17.53 lakh households are electrified. However, a whopping number of 4.76 lakh consumers are still unauthorized and unregistered. The State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) has time and again castigated the department for failing in registering the unauthorized consumers.

“Even by giving allowance for un-electrified households there are still a large number of unauthorized/unregistered households who are using electricity but not paying for it,” the Commission had observed last year after the PDDfiled a petition for hiking the tariff on its registered consumers.

As per the data given below, Kashmir region has 1.98 lakh unauthorized/unregistered consumers against Jammu region having 2.78 lakh such consumers. As per the latest reports the number of unregistered consumers has further gone down to 1.61 lakh.

S.No Division     Total Households/  Electrified           Registered           Unregistered

                                Census2011        Households

1.   Kashmir Division : 993844     865740      667730         198010

2.   Jammu Division :1021244    887461   608695         278766

          2015018              1753201   1276425    476776

In the circumstances explained hereinabove, we solicit your kind intervention in the matter and pray for the following directions to the Power Development Department;

a)      That the curtailment scheduled announced by the department for metered and unmetered consumers unilaterally without the approval of J&K SERC be kindly quashed.

b)      No curtailment in the metered areas be allowed in the interest of restoring confidence of consumers in the Government commitments and facilitating transition into metered regime.

c)       The department may file a just, rational, reasonable and suitable non-discriminatory curtailment schedule for all regions with J&K SERC. The commission may consider such a schedule after inviting and listening to the objections from consumers.

d)      That appropriate action warranted under law be taken against the department for defaulting in its own unilaterally framed schedule by adhering to frequent unprecedented and pesky power cuts.

e)      That the consumers subjected to such unscheduled cuts be appropriately compensated through cash incentives and reduction in the tariff.

f)       That the onus of removing misconceptions about the consumers of Kashmir region from the minds of some biased politicians and bureaucrats be put on the shoulders of PDD who should provide them transparent and factual details about the consumption and revenue realization thereof.

We solicit that the Commission disposes of our petition in Srinagar in presence of the authorities of PDD and desired consumers of Kashmir valley.

Thanking You

Yours Faithfully

(Shakeel Qalander)

Member KCSDS

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