A move to block Arvind Kejriwal from cancelling power firms’ licenses

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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has asked the region’s power regulator to revoke the licences of two electricity distributors if they fail to supply power, drawing criticism from the companies. But today, a tribunal which decides cases relating to electricity issues in Delhi said the firms’ licenses cannot be revoked without its permission.

The distributors targeted by Mr Kejriwal are BSES Yamuna Power Ltd and BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd, run by billionaire Anil Ambani’s Reliance Infrastructure Ltd.

“Anil Ambani playing politics wid delhi’s electricity? Whose politics is he doing?,” Mr Kejriwal tweeted last evening.

Reliance responded with a statement that said the group is “extremely disappointed with the Delhi Chief Minister’s tweet attacking our Group Chairman.”

The Reliance-backed companies have been warned by the Delhi government that they must clear their bills with power providers and cannot threaten the city with large blackouts on account of a cash crunch. Reliance Infrastructure runs the distribution companies, with the Delhi government holding a 49% stake.

In the event of the licences being revoked, “suitable officers” would be appointed to administer the distribution companies and keep power switched on, the government has said.

State-run power producer NTPC has said that BSES Yamuna Power, which sells electricity in the central and eastern parts, must pay its bills or be cut off from February 11.

BSES Yamuna Power has already expressed its inability to pay state-run power generation companies citing lower tariffs and a shortfall in revenues.

The row could result in outages of up to 10 hours a day, it had warned, provoking Mr Kejriwal to allege “blackmail.”

The distributors contend that the regulator has failed to increase power tariffs in line with the rising cost of power, leading to a revenue loss of more than Rs. 15000 crore.