Jaipur, 03 July 2004

“Proposed draft Rajasthan Electricity Bill 2004 aims at promoting competition and efficiency in electricity generation, transmission and distribution which is a welcome move; however it does not adequately address genuine concerns of rural consumers at large. Though the necessary legal framework to ensure commercial viability of distribution utilities has been provided, which is desirable, yet the issues pertaining to quality of services to rural and agriculture consumers is overlooks. Time-bound provisions have been made for ‘open access’ to protect the interests of industrial consumers however in case of rural consumer there is insufficient mention, without necessary elaborations”

These are the excerpts from collective views of more than 25 Consumer groups from across the State, emerged out in response to a survey conducted by CUTS to know their opinion about various provisions made under the draft Rajasthan Electricity Bill 2004. While doing this survey, CUTS critically analysed the draft Bill and prepared a questionnaire to get views of these more that 25 Consumer groups spread over the State.

All consumer groups were unanimously opined that the draft bill must provide for linking the tariff to the quality of supply offered to a category of consumers. “A rural consumer getting erratic supply with poor voltage should not be charged equal to his counterpart in city like Jaipur where far better services and supplies are maintained.” Expressed many rural consumer groups.

The Bill carries the provision for consumer to pay the Capital and Maintenance costs of Distribution Company’s infrastructure in case of getting a new connection, which is entirely injustice. In the wake of the fact that agriculture consumers mostly get supply during night hours, which help Distribution Companies maintaining their load-curve flat, the Bill could have provided for taking into account the parameters such as, time of the supply, quality of supply and so on, as decisive parameters for tariff determination. Not only that, the Bill keeps silence about imposing penalties in case of Distribution Companies not delivering the services with agreed standards, which is entirely unacceptable.

While the Consumer groups welcome the proposed move for making the Regulatory Commission accountable to elected legislatives however remain critical of not providing the required financial autonomy to the Commissions to actually become independent to the State government.

Inclusion of the provision for Regulatory Commission releasing a ‘draft tariff order’, prior to finalising the tariffs, is also demanded.

Based upon the outcome of this survey, CUTS has submitted a detailed memorandum to the State government demanding for incorporating the suggested improvements into the Bill.