A new power tariff policy with a focus on empowering the consumer has been sent to the Union Cabinet for approval and it is expected to be passed soon, Power Minister R K Singh said on Monday.
The new power tariff policy is a path-breaking one, Singh said, adding it has gone to the Cabinet and hopefully it would be passed quickly.
"In that I am laying down for the first time in the power sector, a Bill of Rights of Consumers," he said.
The rights include 24X7 power supply to consumers and in case of any load shedding, penalty would be levied on distribution companies (discoms) and credited into consumers account, Singh told reporters here.
If there was any disruption in supply--transformer going off etc it has to be attended within a certain timeframe which would be laid down by the regulator and if not attended within that time, then again penalty would be levied, Singh said.
He said the discoms cannot pass on the burden of their inefficiency (on the consumers).
"Like if the discom is making higher losses then it cannot increase the tariff. We are saying that losses of only up to 15 per cent can be passed into tariff. We are also coming out with a system where by you (consumer) can choose your supplier."
On the row over renewable power tariffs in Andhra Pradesh, Singh said: "What happened was unfortunate. I spoke and wrote to Reddy (Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy). What has transpired is exactly what I feared (affected flow of foreign investments into the sector)."
"When I wrote to him I told him that people come and invest in this country with the faith that any contract they sign will be honoured. If you start abrogating contracts, then people will stop coming and investing," Singh said.
The energy sector especially the renewables was mostly driven by foreign investments, he said.
According to him, the world sees India as a country where renewable energy capacity is growing and will grow.
"That was because our legal systems were clear and contracts signed. I had told him (Reddy) that this will disrupt the investments and that has happened," Singh said.
"Our stand is very clear that if you (Andhra Pradesh government) come across any illegality and if there is any concrete evidence of any illegality, then you take action as per law. But you cannot (do it) across the board without any material (to) re-open all contracts...you can't do that."
The Andhra Pradesh government had earlier initiated an exercise to review power purchase agreements.
On reports of "Rs 2,000 crore dues from discoms to renewable companies," Singh said, "I have had discussions with the state government and I am confident they will pay."
He said the government would electrify all remaining--some pockets in Chattisgarh's Bastar region and some in desert areas of Rajasthan--households by December 2019.
According to him, the Centre has set a goal of making India a USD 5 trillion economy.
Reacting to a query on job losses amid an economic slowdown in India, he said there has been a huge disruption in the international economic system because of "some trade wars happening" and therefore the demand worldwide was less.
"We are still the third fastest growing economy amongst the major economies and we have the advantage of having a huge country and market and therefore huge potential for demand.
We aim to leverage that to reach our goal and we will come through," Singh added.
Singh also mentioned several measures taken by the BJP government in the first 100 days and scrapping Article 35-A and Article 370 and that gave special status for Jammu and Kashmir were path-breaking decisions.
"Pakistan went around the world but did not get support even the middle east countries supported us. That (shows) how good we are at our foreign policy, he added.