Supreme Court intervention stalls blackouts in Delhi
New Delhi – As winter makes a quick exit and temperatures rise in Delhi, the Supreme Court today thwarted the immediate threat of long power outages.
Judges said that two of three electricity-supplying firms in Delhi that say they have run out of money must continue to receive power till March 26 from the state-run producer National Thermal Power Corporation or NTPC. The court also said that the firms have two weeks to pay an installment of 50 crores to the state-run firm, which is owed more than 400 crores in all.
The two firms are owned by BSES, which is backed by billionaire Anil Ambani’s Reliance Infra Group. The state-owned electricity producer had said it would cut off its supply to BSES on Monday if its bills were not cleared.
The private firms have said in their appeal to the Supreme Court that their cash crunch is due partly to long overdue payments from the Delhi government.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has alleged “blackmail” by the firms and says the power regulator for the area should cancel their licenses. When that happens, he has said, government officials will administer the firms.
A tribunal that handles power cases in and around Delhi has said licenses cannot be revoked without its clearance, offering a measure of relief to the BSES firms.
Mr Kejriwal fulfilled a pre-poll promise within days of taking office by halving the price of electricity. This month, the rates were increased by upto 8% on the orders of the power regulator, a move the chief minister stridently opposed.
Delhi’s three power-distribution companies have gone to court to challenge Mr Kejriwal’s decision to have their records studied by the national auditor. The case will be heard on February 1 in the Delhi High Court. Mr Kejriwal alleges that in collusion with earlier governments, the firms have claimed losses though they are profiteering.