Union Power Minister RK Singh on Monday announced historic power reforms in the sector for consumers, asserting that the new rules will empower them.
The new set of rules, which will ensure the rights of electricity consumers, provides for penalties for power distribution utilities (discoms) for not maintaining mandated standards of services under the Electricity (Rights of consumers) Rules.
Speaking to ANI, Singh said that these rules will empower the consumers of electricity as the entire power system is for them.
"We are the representatives of the people. We will fight for the rights of the people. The rules we have made it clear for the first time that the entire power system is for the consumer and not the consumers for the system. You have to serve the consumer. You have to give rights to the consumer," he said.
"Now there is no need that the consumer will apply for the connection and run to local power office. Consumers will submit an application to complete all the formality. This can be done online also. Power companies have to give the connection within the fixed time," he said.
The Union Minister said that consumers' complaint should be resolved quickly else penalty will be imposed.
"If there is any complaint about the meter, then it has to be tested within the fixed time. If there is any complaint of consumers, then action has to be taken within these days or else penalty will be imposed because consumers are empowered now. The company does not have the rights that is why it was needed. We are also setting the standard," he said.
"If the power supply is below standard, then you will incur a penalty. The penalty will be incurred if you do load setting for a long time also. This is the rule. The government has the right to make the rule. We drafted and consulted all the stakeholders and put it on the internet. Keeping the suggestions in mind, we made rules in consultation with the Law Ministry and that rules were made," Singh said.
"Now we have to put it on the table of the Parliament and it will remain on the table of the Parliament for 60 days and if the Parliament did not make any amendments to it, then it will be implemented like this," he said.
Singh said that the Central government had approved a plan of ₹ 2.2 lakh crore under Deendayal Vidyut Yojana and Saubhagya scheme to improve the power system.
"60 per cent of which has been given by the Government of India as a grant and 30 per cent loan. Only 10 per cent state has to bear. This has strengthened the distribution system of the power supply in states," he added.
Rights of consumers and obligations of distribution licensees, release of new connection and modification in existing connection, metering arrangement, billing and payment, disconnection and reconnection, reliability of supply, consumer as prosumer, standards of performance of licensee, compensation mechanism, call centre for consumer services, grievance redressal mechanism are key areas covered in the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules.
These rules emanate from the conviction that the power systems exist to serve the consumers and the consumers have rights to get the services and reliable, quality electricity, according to a release by the Ministry of Power.