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Andhra Pradesh power price hike sparks calls for strike

Increase comes as Andhra Pradesh reels under serious power crisis

Gulf News

Hyderabad: Even as the opposition was agitating against the imposition of surcharge on the power tariff in Andhra Pradesh, the state government has further added to consumers’ burden by effecting a whopping 27 per cent increase in the power tariff, creating an additional burden of Rs65 billion (Dh4.4 billion).

Evoking an angry reaction from all sections of society and all the political parties, the Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Regulatory Commission announced the revised tariff for both domestic and industrial consumers from Monday.

Only the agriculture sector has been spared from the unprecedented hike, which has come at a time when the state was already reeling under serious power crisis and the people in the villages were going with out electricity for more than 12 hours.

While rejecting the Power Transmission Corporation’s proposals for a total hike of 45 per cent, the commission allowed the 27 per cent hike. The new burden on the people has come after the state government has provided Rs54.8 billion towards the subsidy for power sector during the new financial year.

Anticipating such a shock, the opposition parties in the state have already given a call for general strike on April 9. The students organisations have announced their support for the strike.

After the left parties and Telugu Desam, leaders of another opposition party, BJP have launched an indefinite hunger strike against the tariff hike.

Earlier the leaders of the left parties and the TDP, who had gone on indefinite hunger strike, were moved to hospitals by police in view of their worsening health condition.

The state BJP President G Kishan Reddy, who was leading the hunger strike, said that the fight would continue until the state government agrees to withdraw the hike.

“It is because of the wrong policies of the central and the state government that the power generation plants were lying idle in the state leading to shortages,” Reddy said.

State secretary of CPIM B V Raghavulu said that it was for the government to decide whether it wants to withdraw the increase in the tariff or wants to be thrown out of power.

The TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu alleged the tariff hike was due to massive corruption by the Congress government. Naidu, who has decided to sit on a day-long fast at Kakinada to protest the increase, said that the people will give a fitting reply to the anti-poor policies of the Congress government.

Demanding a rollback, Telangana Rashtra Samiti president K Chandrashekhar Rao announced that his party will also participate in the general strike. He gave a call to his cadre to intensify the power agitation.

YSR Congress leader B Govardhan said that Congress had gone back on its promise not the increase the tariff and had lost the moral right to remain in power.

The hike also come under attack from within the Congress party as leaders were afraid that such moves would trigger an anti-establishment wave ahead of the next elections.

“Such decisions will harm the party immensely,” warned senior party leader V Hanumantha Rao, who demanded a review.

But Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy defended the policy saying that the hike will not affect more than 50 per cent of consumers who were using less than 50 units per month.

He said the power generation cost in the state had gone up to Rs12.50 per unit.

He promised that the state government will develop a new policy to lessen the burden on the people, and a bigger subsidy would be provided.