Arvind Kejriwal, the new chief minister of Delhi, has directed India’s federal auditors to examine the accounts of three private power distribution companies which provide electricity to India’s capital.
The anti-corruption crusader turned politician said the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) will begin its work on Thursday.
Kejriwal’s newly elected Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), in its election manifesto, had promised to halve electricity charges and check anomalies in power distribution.
One of his first directive as chief minister was to reduce power tariff by 50 percent for households consuming 400 units a month. Power consumption over 400 units however, will pay up full charges from Thursday.
The three major discoms that provide electricity to Delhi are controlled by India’s leading private companies – Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd, BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd.
Two of these companies belong to India’s top corporations helmed by Anil Ambani and Tata Groups.
The chief minister brushed aside the presentation made by representatives of power distribution companies on Wednesday. They had requested for the Delhi High Court’s verdict on the matter before commencing the audit of their accounts.
Since 2002, India’s capital began to privatise its power distribution for its 45 lakh customers. The Delhi government owns 49 percent of the discoms and the rest are with private companies.
Given the power outages and escalating costs, in 2011 an activist group had filed a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) in the Delhi High Court demanding an audit of the private companies that distributed power.
The hearing on this case is scheduled on 22 January.
The representatives of the private distribution companies told the chief minister on Wednesday that the matter is sub-judice and to await the result of the court’s verdict.
However Kejriwal told reporters, “There is no stay order against auditing discoms’ account through CAG”.
The CAG was constituted as a body to audit federal accounts of the public sector. Private power discoms feel that they do not come under the ambit of the CAG.
In the 1990s India’s capital city suffered long hours of power cuts. The move to allow private companies to regulate and distribute electricity helped to curb long hours of outages.