TN power tariff hike for electric crematoria, street lights adds to burden on local bodies
The tariff for electricity consumed in all the crematoria in the state has been increased from ₹3.64 to ₹9.32 per unit and this new revised tariff comes into effect from September 10. This move comes in the wake of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) changing incinerators from low pressure tariff V to LT tariff IIA.
Cemeteries are managed by local bodies, so if they decide not to pass on the hike to the public, the burden will fall on local bodies.
“Electric crematorium of local bodies are being maintained through outsourcing and must be charged to LT tariff II A,” said the TANGEDCO petition to TNERC. Replying to this petition, the TNERC said that as the electricity charges of electric crematorium are paid by government/local bodies, the same is re-classified under LT-IIA.
This sharp increase in power tariff for crematoria has come in for a lot of criticism from various sections of society. Along with crematoria, the tariff has been increased for parks and street lights as well. For low tension tariff IIA category covering local bodies (street lights and overhead tanks), the proposed tariff increase on an average rate of billing basis is ₹9.32 per unit from ₹7.14 per unit.
The proposed tariff hike for electric crematorium was a steep 156 per cent (₹9.32 per unit from ₹3.64 per unit), whereas, for domestic IA category it was only 63 per cent, analysts pointed out.
As on July 31, a total of ₹3,473.72 crore is the total dues pending from various government departments, public sector companies, and local bodies to TANGEDCO, at the end of July 31. Out of this, local bodies alone have to pay ₹909.68 crore to TANGEDCO.
A senior TANGEDCO official told The Federal, “Yes, it is true nearly ₹1,000 crore is pending from local bodies and we are not sure whether the tariff increase on local bodies will actually increase our revenue since they have not been paying their bills every year.”
Local bodies have the maximum number of power service connections of 5,78,749 connections and out of this, many have not still paid their power bills.
Defaulting on payments and accumulation of arrears
Every year, several departments in the state have been defaulting on their payments and accumulating arrears. The state government, through the district collectors, tried to crack the whip, asking departments to pay their bills without further delay. It also decided to appoint a special officer to coordinate and speed up the process.
“Frequently, senior department officials hold meetings to thrash out a solution to clear the bills. The special officer will coordinate with the departments in every district and ensure they pay their power bills on time,” said the official.
“We have asked all departments to start clearing their payments. The Centre has asked the TANGEDCO like discoms to provide pre-paid smart meters to these departments so that they will not be able to default with these meters, as power supply will be stopped once the total money is spent,” he said.