Kejriwal fulfils another promise, cuts power rates by 50%

Arvind KejriwalAmong a flurry of decisions aimed at fulfilling electoral promises, Arvind Kejriwal's Delhi cabinet today cleared a 50 per cent cut in electricity tariffs for the Indian capital.

Chief Minister Kejriwal announced the decision this evening after chairing his first full cabinet meeting at the Delhi secretariat.

He had earlier announced that the three major power distribution companies in the capital will be audited by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG), starting with the New Year.

Kejriwal said the power tariff cut would be effective from Wednesday, 1 January 2004, and will apply to households that consume up to 400 units of electricity a month. Those who consume more will pay for the entire supply.

In a similar move on Monday, Kejriwal had also kept his promise of providing Delhi denizens with close to 700 litres of water a day free. But in that case too, he showed some economic nous by adding a similar rider - those consuming more than 20 kilolitres of water a month will have to pay for the entire consumption at a 10 per cent premium over current rates.

The chief minister said the decision on power tariffs would benefit 34 lakh consumers and would cost the state government Rs60 crore for the three months left of this financial year.

Kejriwal fell ill on Sunday and could not attend office on Monday. But this afternoon- reportedly against medical advice - he left home to meet the CAG, Shashi Kant Sharma, who agreed to inspect the finances of Delhi's distribution companies, before heading the cabinet meeting in the evening.

"If the companies have any objections to being audited, they should inform us by tomorrow (Wednesday) morning," the 45-year-old chief minister - the youngest in Delhi's history as a state - told newspersons.

Kejriwal's Aam Admi Party alleges that power distributors in Delhi colluded with earlier governments to overcharge residents.

Ahead of his meeting with the CAG, the new Chief Minister tweeted, ''Going to meet the CAG, to discuss possibility of an audit of the three power companies.

''I believe we have 48 hours in hand so doing whatever we can to help people in this period,'' he added, referring to the fact that his fledgling government faces a vote of confidence in the Delhi assembly on 3 January.