Two power-supplying firms in Delhi whose licenses ought to be cancelled according to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal have asked the Supreme Court for help. Their case will be heard tomorrow, though the Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam, noted with some frustration, “Everything is happening in Delhi, only remedy is Supreme Court?”
BSES, backed by Anil Ambani’s Reliance Infra, runs two companies that supply electricity to nearly 70% of Delhi. They owe about Rs. 400 crore to the power-generating company National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), which has said that unless its dues are cleared by Monday night, it will stop supplying electricity to BSES. That could result in immediate and long power outages.
Mr Kejriwal said earlier this week that the BSES firms cannot hold Delhi hostage because they are in a cash crunch. He said that they need to ensure they pay their bills to NTPC, which is owned by the government, and ensure uninterrupted power supply. He also asked the power regulator for the region to cancel their licenses. However, a tribunal assigned to handle electricity cases has said its permission is needed to revoke licenses, a step it has not yet sanctioned.
The BSES companies are run by Reliance Infrastructure, with the Delhi government holding a 49% stake. They allege that for years, they have been coerced to supply power at below-market rates, while their costs have been rising. On Monday, the power regulator approved a price hike of upto 8%, provoking strong criticism from the chief minister.