Amid controversy over power subsidy being given by the Kejriwal government in the national Capital, the AAP government has decided an audit of the subsidy being given to discoms to ascertain if there are any discrepancies.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said a conspiracy is being hatched to stop his government’s free electricity scheme, but he will not let it succeed at any cost. Speaking to reporters after addressing the Delhi Assembly, he claimed that round-the-clock free electricity to the people of Delhi makes the BJP uncomfortable.
“Conspiracies are being hatched. They want to stop the power subsidy at any cost, but I won’t let it happen till I am alive,” he said. He also said the subsidy being provided to power discoms will be audited. “We had ordered an audit of discoms when we formed government in Delhi in 2013.”
Earlier, Delhi Power Minister Atishi on Monday announced that the chief minister Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has ordered an audit of the subsidy being given to discoms to ascertain if there are any discrepancies.
Atishi said agencies empanelled with the Comptroller and Auditor General of India will conduct the audit and directions in this regard will be issued in two to three days. Meanwhile, the opposition BJP has termed the Kejriwal government decision as a political gimmick and an eye-wash.
“A big conspiracy is being hatched at a high level to stop free electricity being provided by the Kejriwal government. Files are not being shown to the chief minister and the power minister... It shows that something is amiss,” Atishi claimed while addressing a press conference on Monday.
“Why has the LG removed experts in the power sector and the best chartered accountants of the country from the boards of power companies? Is there collusion between the LG, the officers and the DISCOMs? Why is the file related to free electricity not being shown to the elected government of Delhi? Is there any collusion between the officials and the power companies, with the blessings of the LG?,” she said.
Earlier this month, the Delhi government had announced that there were no plans to revise its power subsidy scheme and it will continue without any restrictions. The assurance was prompted by the Lt Governor’s office seeking changes to the power subsidy policy in the national capital.
“There are many questions being raised about Lt Governor’s ‘nexus’ with power discoms,” Atishi said. The AAP leader alleged that files pertaining to free electricity were not being shown even to the power minister of the elected government.
Terming the government to conduct an audit on power subsidy being given to discoms a political gimmick and an eyewash, BJP MLA and former leader of the opposition, Vijender Gupta said that for the past eight years, the Delhi government has been funneling Rs 3,500 crore of public funds to private entities under the pretext of power subsidies. He questioned why this money was not provided to the people directly through direct benefit transfers (DBT).
Gupta emphasized that although crores of rupees are transferred to the discoms annually, no audit has been carried out so far. It was only when the Delhi Lieutenant Governor expressed concerns that the AAP government suddenly announced an audit, which Gupta believes will ultimately be a futile exercise.
Leader of Opposition Ramvir Singh Bidhuri said that this government is on back foot on the power subsidy issue. The government has committed a big fraud in the name of the power subsidy. Why don’t they provided direct benefit to consumers,” he added.
The dispute between the Delhi government and the lieutenant governor’s office has intensified over the city’s free electricity scheme. On Saturday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the LG’s office of plotting to terminate the scheme, a claim that the office refuted as false and misleading.
Under the scheme, the Delhi government offers up to 200 units of free electricity each month to consumers and a 50% subsidy to those using up to 400 units per month. Last year, the government introduced an opt-in scheme, and around 4.8 million consumers have already opted in for the power subsidy.
The dispute over the power subsidy began on March 10 when the LG asked the chief secretary to instruct the power department to present the statutory advice of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) before the council of ministers.