New Delhi: Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit on Wednesday met Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, demanding six-month waiver to power consumers in the city who, she said, have been made to pay over Rs 7,400 crore as increased fixed charges and surcharge for pension fund.
A party delegation led by Dikshit met the chief minister at his Flagstaff Road residence, and raised issues related to power and water supply faced by the people in the national capital. However, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders claimed that the current rates of electricity were "cheaper" than what consumers paid during the Dikshit regime and added that the complaints of the Congress delegation were countered with facts, leaving them speechless.
A memorandum signed by Dikshit was submitted to Kejriwal. "The Delhi Congress demands that the AAP government should not bill the power consumers in Delhi for next six months as the state government has illegally collected Rs 7,401 crore from them in the name of fixed charges and pensions funds to favour (power) discoms," it said.
The Delhi Congress has stepped up attack on the ruling AAP over issues related to power and water supply, which the ruling dispensation claims were its biggest achievements, with the Delhi assembly polls due in early 2020.
After the meeting, Delhi Congress working president Haroon Yusuf said that Dikshit raised the power and water crises being faced by people during the meeting. "The chief minister assured that fixed charges will be brought to previous lower rates," he claimed.
The Congress delegation also discussed power outages, particularly in poor pockets in the city, problems of "contaminated" and "scarce" supply of water during the meeting, Yusuf said.
"The Delhi Jal Board is supplying 900 million gallons per day (MGD) water against peak demand of 1200 MGD, resulting in a massive water shortage across the capital," the party memorandum said.
AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj claimed that in 2013, Kejriwal went to meet Dikshit, who was the then chief minister, against the power tariff hike but he was told that she was "sleeping" and added "Kejriwal met and listened to her today".
"Congress delegation was provided fact-sheet at CM house. @SheilaDikshit left embarrassed when she found that 2019 rates under AK are still half of what she charged. That too after 6 yrs," he tweeted.
"We sought to know from the Congress delegation the basic calculation behind their complaints but they had nothing to offer," he said, claiming that the delegation "accepted" that power supply situation was "better" now.
Delhi's power minister Satyendar Jain compared the prevailing net bill amount with that during the Dikshit government in 2010 to 2013, and said the tariff now is cheaper. "The Congress ruled states have 3-4 times higher power tariff than that in Delhi. I appeal them to bring tariff to Delhi's level," he said.
Jain also rejected the Congress's claim that extra amount was collected from power consumers due to the hike in fixed charges and surcharge for pension fund. "Total bill amount has significantly come down. No extra money has been taken from people," Jain said.
The power minister said that its a "big achievement" of AAP government to ensure round-the-clock power supply at the "cheapest" rates. "Power outage is 10 times less than it was 10 years ago. There is no shortage of power," he said.
Party leader Raghav Chadha slammed the Congress and the BJP for raising water supply issue in view of coming Assembly polls. "Eighty-five per cent people in Delhi are receiving water. As many as 600 unauthorised colonies have been provided piped water which were earlier not getting any," he said.
The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) is working "beyond it's capacity" to ensure water supply across the city. It has availability of 940 MGD water which is the "highest ever" under any government, he added.