Protest in Mizoram over 20% hike in power tariff

Aizawl, Aug 25 (PTI) Youth Congress activists protested in Aizawl over the steep hike in power tariff, demanding the resignation of state power minister R Lalzirliana.

Leading the demonstration outside Vanapa Hall here on Tuesday, state Youth Congress president Lalmalsawma Nghaka accused the government of robbing the people by hiking power tariffs and issuing bogus power bills.

“The power minister should take responsibility for the hike and bogus bills and must oblige to resign from his office for failing to look after his department efficiently,” he said.

He said the government has hiked power tariff by 20.7 per cent, which came into effect in April, at a time when people are facing hardship and livelihood crisis due to the pandemic.

Lalmalsawma claimed that power bills issued in August were mostly high and some poor families, who consumed very less units, were asked to pay consumption charges ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 lakh.

The government should withdraw all the bogus bills and re-issue correct bills to the consumers, he said.

State power engineer-in-chief Lalduhzuala Sailo denied any lapse in the power bills.

“Although meter reading was not done due to the lockdown, bills were prepared and consumption charges were calculated by taking together the average net value of the unpaid months based on the net amount of the previous bill,” he told PTI.

The bill amounts were high because they covered three months — April to June, he said.

Sailo said power tariff is decided by the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) for the states of Mizoram and Manipur, which as a procedure, hold a public hearing before a hike.

However, only representatives of a political party were present at the last hearing, which unanimously agreed to a 20.7 per cent hike effective from April 1, he said.