Thiruvananthapuram: Electricity charges in Kerala are set to go up by 20 to 30 paise per unit despite Kerala Electricity Regulatory Commission chairman’s protests over passing on the increased salary bill to the consumers.
The increase in fare stage will be harsher on individual households and industrial units. Commercial establishments may not experience much of a difference in their electricity bills after the commission issues an order detailing the new rates.
The chairman of the commission has put on record his dissent to the decision to allow the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) to squeeze out about Rs 607 crore from consumers over two years to foot the salary bill of its employees. However, the other two members of the board has stamped their approval on the increase.
The commission was divided over approving the board's income and expenditure for 2011-12 and 2012-13. The chairman refused to accept the salary bill, contradicting the opinions of the other members. The board submitted that it had spent Rs 1,903 crore as salaries in 2011-12 but the chairman would only allow Rs 1,582 crore.
He alleged that the pay reforms in the board were flawed and the management was conspiring with the employees to jack up the salaries. However, the other members wanted the commission to approve Rs 1,822 crore, leaving the chairman no option but to issue an order with a note of dissent.
Similarly, the board sought approval for Rs 2,103 crore for its salary bill for 2012-13 but the chairman set a limit of Rs 1,663 crore. However, he may have to issue an order with a dissent note as his co-members insist on granting approval for Rs 2,030 crore.
A consumer spends as much as Rs 1.10 per every unit he consumes for paying the salaries of the board employees, the chairman observed, adding that the share was only half this level in other states. The number of employees have gone up from 26,000 to 33,000. There were efforts to add 2,000 more posts but the burden could not be passed on to consumers, the chairman said.
The Regulatory Commission is chaired by a former chairman of the electricity board. Its members are also former members of the board. One of them still draws pension as a former employee of the board.