The recent power tariff hike announced days after the Assembly concluded its monsoon session seems to have added fuel to the United Democratic Front’s ongoing agitations. The power tariff hike and the proposal to raise deposits from power consumers in proportion to their consumption have come as a blow to the common man.
The Opposition has been on the path of agitation against the State government’s attempts to financially and administratively throttle the functioning of local bodies and the moves to discontinue the Karunya Benevolent Fund that has been beneficial to the economically weak.
Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, criticized the State government for the power tariff hike, coming as it did close on the heels of the Union Finance Minister’s announcement in her budget speech that the duty on petrol and diesel would be raised.
“The Central and State governments appear to be competing with each other in imposing burden on the people. In addition to these price hikes, the State government’s proposed flood cess is due to come into effect on August 1. Together, these additional imposts would come as a big burden on the people of the State,’’ he said.
Mr. Chennithala, announcing the UDF plan to stage a dharna in front of the Secretariat led by its legislators on July 18, said the Kerala State Electricity Board had passed on the cost of its inefficiency to the consumer by bringing in tariff hikes during monsoon. Its dam management was questionable, leading to the prospects of supply curbs within 10 days.
The LDF government’s bid to throttle the local bodies was unjustifiable as the ruling coalition had always projected the concept of decentralization of power. Apart from dismantling the Karunya fund, the government had also messed up the insurance scheme for government employees, he said.
The UDF will organize demonstrations in panchayats, municipalities and city Corporations on July 15.