GUWAHATI: The implication of Congress’s guarantee to give up to 200 units of free electricity to every household is that 70% of power consumers in Assam won’t have to pay any charges at all.
An estimated 35 lakh of 50 lakh consumers in the state use less than 200 units of power. So, Congress’s guarantee could be its trump card in garnering support of the lower middle class and the middle-class voters.
“There are a total of 50 lakh consumers in Assam. Only 1,23,244 consumers fall in the Jeevan Dhara Category who are required to pay a tariff charge of Rs 4.25 per unit. Tragedy is that the majority of Assam’s electricity consumers pay an exorbitant, unheard of electricity tariff rate of Rs 6.15 per unit,” said AICC general secretary Randeep Surjewala at a press meet on Monday.
Surjewala alleged that after fleecing the people with high tariff for five years, the BJP-led government issued a deceptive order on February 26, stating that electricity up to 30 units in the Jeevan Dhara scheme will be free. “The moment power consumption goes to 31 units this benefit will go. If you light even a single bulb, the tariff will be more than 30 units. Hence, the order itself is a non-starter,” he added.
Congress also accused the BJP-led government of betraying the interests of Assam by systematically decreasing the state’s own power generation capacity and encouraging the purchase of power at expensive rates ranging from Rs 8.78 per unit to Rs 12.42. “In 2014-15 (under Congress government), the average price of electricity purchased in Assam was Rs 3.96 per unit. In 2019-20, it increased to Rs 5.05 per unit — an increase of over 30%. In five years of the Sonowal government, electricity worth over Rs 20,000 crore has been purchased by spending Assam’s precious resources,” Surjewala said.
Assam Power Generation Corporation Limited has an installed generation capacity of 431 MW but Assam requires over 1,500 MW of electricity. “Shockingly, five generating units have shut down under the BJP government and the generation capacity has fallen from 431 MW to 366 MW,” Surjewala alleged.
Quoting from a reply to a parliamentary question, the AICC general secretary also accused the BJP government of pushing the hardworking people of Assam to a position where they get the least amount of power, just like in Bihar. That reply pegged the annual per capita electricity consumption in the state at just 348 units. “This means that every resident of Assam does not even get one unit of electricity per day. This clearly reflects how Assam has been pushed to the lowest level by the Sonowal government,” Surjewala said.
Assam Congress will also hold interactions with the youth to spread awareness about its other guarantee — to provide 5 lakh government jobs. These will be held at all 43 constituencies that are going to the polls in the first phase.
The party has informed that over 1.4 lakh people have registered for its job guarantee scheme on the party website www.congressor5guarantee.in. Congress candidates will answer questions of the people on this.