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Protests across Andhra Pradesh over electricity tariff hike

Opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday staged state-wide protests against hike in electricity tariff announced by the government.

Main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Left parties staged dharnas, took out rallies and organised innovative protests demanding a roll back.

The Electricity Regulatory Commission (ERC) on Wednesday issued the Retail Tariff Order for 2022-23, increasing the tariff for domestic consumers.

The tariff hike ranges from 45 paise to Rs 1.57 per unit in six different slabs for domestic consumption.

The tariff hike triggered protests by opposition parties in the state, which demanded an immediate rollback.

TDP national General Secretary Nara Lokesh held a lantern demonstration in Amaravati on Thursday to highlight the plight of poor households in the state following current charges hikes for seven times in the past three years of the YSRCP regime.

Lokesh arrived at the party office holding the lantern and accompanied by party leaders and cadres. They raised slogans against the YSRCP government.

He slammed the CM for putting undue burden on the poor consumers by hiking Rs 1.40 per unit in 76 to 125 units category. Also, the middle classes were also punished by hiking the unit price Rs 1.57 in 126 to 220 units category. Poor and middle income households are scared to turn on bulbs and fans this summer, he said.

Noting that the Chandrababu regime gave 24-hour quality power without a hike, Lokesh said there would have been no need to hike the current charges had Jagan Reddy honoured the MoUs signed by Chandrababu Naidu with the power companies. If the solar and wind power companies were encouraged like in the TDP regime, it would have given positive results even to reduce power tariff by Re 1 per unit by now, he claimed.

The TDP MLC blamed Jagan Reddy for throwing the power sector into a serious crisis by purchasing in the open market at Rs 9 to Rs 10 per unit. "In his swearing-in rhetoric, the CM vowed not to hike current charges and if possible, he would reduce rates. But in just three years, he hiked charges for over 7 times and imposed a burden of Rs 12,000 crore in the name of true-up charges, dues and so on," he said.

Lokesh said while Chandrababu Naidu gave different benefits as Sankranti, Ramzan and Christmas 'kanukas' (gifts), Jagan Reddy had given a steep hike in current charges as 'Ugadi kanuka' this year.

Accusing the YSRCP of putting AP on top in fuel prices, garbage tax, toilet tax, illicit liquor and cheap liquor brands, he demanded that the slabs in current bills should be taken back to what they were prior to 2019.

TDP state President K. Atchannaidu on Thursday held the Jagan Mohan Reddy government's "inefficiency" responsible for the non-stop hikes in current charges in the past three years.

He said that the latest increase in current charges would put an additional burden of Rs 4,400 crore on the people every year. This was in addition to the Rs 11,600 crore burden already imposed by the Jagan regime through charges hikes for five times in the past.

In Vijayawada, TDP MLA Gadde Rammohan resorted to novel protest. He held a begging bowl seeking alms to pay electricity bill.

CPI state Secretary Ramakrishna led a dharna in Kadapa.

He said people were already burdened with the hike in prices of petrol, diesel and LPG and the state government has now added the burden by hiking electricity tariff.

Left parties staged protest in Eluru, and Vizianagaram. In Visakhapatnam, the CPI-M and its affiliated organisations staged the protest demanding rollback.

Rallies were taken out in Kurnool, Guntur and other places.

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