SHILLONG, March 12 � Power tariff in Meghalaya is likely to increase at a shocking 500 per cent, if the State-owned Meghalaya Electric Power Corporation (MeCL) has its way.
There was protests from various organisations after learning about the proposal of MeCL earlier this year to hike power tariff by 500 per cent, but nothing was heard of it until yesterday.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma gave a clear indication in the House that power tariff would increase, but he fell short of giving the exact figures that would burden the consumers.
According to the MeCL�s proposal, the power tariff would be increased from the present Rs 35 to Rs 210 per kilo watt. Sangma said that the increase in tariff is �linked to overhead expenditure� in purchasing power for the State.
The MeCL has to pay Rs 473 crore to private companies for purchase of power, which it has failed to liquidate so far.
The State has been purchasing power from private and public sector companies to meet the power needs of the State. The State-run power corporation has not been able to generate enough power for the State from the projects it runs.
Sangma said that the dues of the MeCL are �alarming,� and the MeCL�s inability to pay the dues has raised �questions on the credibility of the State�. In fact, daily there has been load shedding in the State for four to five hours from last year. The MeCL has not been able to avoid this loadshedding even during the Board examinations as the situation has turned from bad to worse.
The Chief Minister said that the power crisis is �much more pronounced� this year than the previous year and many private companies have refused to sell power as their past dues have not been cleared.
The Chief Minster said that a lot of factors have led to the MeCL�s present financial mess and poor performance. Sangma underlined failure to revise tariff as one of the major factors and also timely realisation of bills from consumers.
Meanwhile, the crippling power crisis in Meghalaya, which once was producing surplus power that led to sales to neighbouring States like Assam, has been termed by Sangma as a �major concern� for the State.
The State in fact has to pay Rs 14 crore to Assam on account of power purchase.
The State is now hoping that the Central Government would bail it out from the financial mess and provide 25 per cent capital reimbursement support on the liabilities of the MeCL, under the Financial Restructuring Plan for State- owned power distribution companies.