New Delhi: The Delhi Cabinet has cleared a 50 per cent cut in electricity tariffs for the capital.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced this after chairing a cabinet meeting at the Delhi Secretariat on Tuesday evening. He had earlier announced that the three major power distribution companies in the capital will be audited starting Wednesday.
Mr Kejriwal said the power tariff cut, effective from Wednesday, January 1, will apply to those homes that consume up to 400 units of electricity a month. Those who consume more will pay for the entire supply. Halving the capital's electricity bills was one of Mr Kejriwal's major pre-poll promises.
The chief minister said the decision would benefit 28 lakh consumers and would cost his government Rs 60 crore for the three months left of this financial year.
Mr Kejriwal, who has been unwell and could not attend office since Monday, left home early yesterday evening to meet the government's national auditor or Comptroller and Auditor General, Shashi Kant Sharma, who agreed to inspect the finances of Delhi's distribution companies since they began doing business in the capital.
"If the companies have any objections about being audited, they should inform us by tomorrow (Wednesday) morning," the 45-year-old former tax inspector said.
On Monday, he delivered on another commitment he had made to voters - free water. His government has said that every household in Delhi with a working meter will receive nearly 700 litres of free water everyday at a cost of Rs. 160 crores to the government. Families that consume more than that will have to pay for the entire amount, with a 10 per cent increase over last year's rates.
AAP has alleged that power companies in Delhi colluded with earlier governments to over-charge residents. Discounting the prices will require a massive government subsidy. According to some estimates, that could add up to Rs. 5,000 crores if the price is halved for 40 lakh consumers.
The one-year-old party's debut in the recent elections was meta - it placed second, depriving the BJP of a majority and forcing the ruling Congress into third place.
Mr Kejriwal formed the government on Saturday with external support from the Congress. He has to prove his majority by Friday.