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Delhi’s ‘power’ play: Pay nothing for Rs 800 bill

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The Delhi government will extend its 100% power subsidy scheme to those domestic consumers who manage to keep their power bills to at most Rs 800, senior government officials working on the plan said on Monday.

The government will also offer a flat Rs 800 discount to those who consume a maximum of 400 units of power, the officials added.

Soon after the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC), a quasi-judicial independent body, announced new tariffs effective from August 1, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had offered a power subsidy scheme for domestic consumers who consume a maximum of 200 units of power every month, with the additional caveat of a maximum 5kW sanctioned load. Kejriwal further said that households consuming anything between 201 and 400 units per month will have to pay their electricity bill but approximately 50% of the full bill amount will be subsidised by the government.

The new plan prepared by the power department, however, expands this.

Officials, while providing details of the revised scheme, said monthly electricity bills will be effectively nil for even those households which consume up to 208 units as their bill would come to about Rs 800 – the maximum a consumer can avail of the subsidy.

The newly introduced cap has rather turned in favour of mostly those consumers who have a consumption pattern ranging from 201-208 units a month with a sanctioned load between 1-2 kW. Electricity for such consumers too will be free of cost.

“It is a misconception that only those consuming up to 200 units will get a full waiver on their electricity bills. Under the new scheme, even those households who have a consumption of say, 204 units with a low sanctioned load, will have to pay nothing. For the rest who consume up to 400 units, those households will get a subsidy of flat Rs 800 on their bills,” said a senior official in the power department on condition of anonymity.

Besides, the scheme will also benefit consumers whose properties are not occupied. Also, the subsidy has no cap on the sanctioned load of a household, as against the cap of 5kW that was announced earlier.

“There are many farmhouses and bungalows that have relatively higher sanctioned load but have no energy consumption as the owners stay out. Or for that matter, any family that has gone for a holiday and has not consumed any electricity for a month, will have to pay either nothing or a negligible amount. This is because the government, for the first time, will be paying for the fixed charges and surcharges in electricity bills up to certain units,” another official said.

Calculations done by the power department show if a household has a sanctioned load of 5kW or 7kW will also have to pay nothing if there is no energy consumption. Those consuming say 208 units with 1 kW will pay Rs 0 even as their actual bill would amount to Rs 798.71.

In 2018-19, there were around 2.6 million consumers using up to 200 units electricity, while those consuming more than 200 and up to 400 units numbered around 1.4 lakh. Delhi has about 4.9 million domestic electricity consumers as of now.

The total expenditure to be incurred for the revised subsidy is still unknown even as officials are estimating that the cost may increase by at least Rs 300 crore. This is the second time that the Delhi government has tweaked it power subsidy scheme which was first launched as a flat 50% subsidy for those consuming up to 400 units in the year 2015.

Last year, in March, the government had changed the scheme after the DERC had increased fixed charges across all slabs. As per the previous subsidy scheme, which was applicable between March, 2018 and July 31 this year, those who consumed between 0-200 units were charged Rs 1 per unit instead of Rs 3, and those using 201-400 units were paying Rs 2.5 instead of 4.5.

In 2015-16, the first year of the scheme, the government had allocated Rs 1,690 crore for the water and power subsidy scheme collectively. Out of this, the power subsidy bill was around Rs 1,200 crore.

The following year saw the power subsidy outlay rise to Rs 1,577 crore; which further rose to Rs 1,676 crore in 2017-18. In 2018-19, Rs 1,699 crore was set aside for the scheme and in the budget for 2019-20, an allocation of Rs 1,720 was made which was slated to be revised to Rs 1,850 crore until the new scheme was announced.

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No, RBI didn’t introduce new Rs 1,000 note. The claim is fake

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Images of what appears to be a note of Rs 1,000 is going viral on social media. Several people – on Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp – are sharing the images with the claim that the pictures are that of a new currency note of 1000 denomination that has been introduced by the RBI. The claim and the images are fake.

A closer look reveals that there are several discrepancies in the images. If you zoom in on one of the images – claiming to be the front side of the note – on the topmost right corner there are two words written, “artistic imagination.” Though that’s enough to prove that the image is a work of imagination, here are some more points.

The claim and image that RBI has introduces Rs 1000 note is fake.

There is no notification regarding the introduction of Rs 1,000 notes on RBI’s official website.

A note of any denomination bears a signature of the RBI governor. Though there is a signature on the image, it reads MK Gandhi.

Image and claim of RBi issuing new Rs 1000 notes is fake.

Another search on YouTube revealed that a video with the same image was also shared on February with the same claim.

So, the images claiming that RBI has issued a new Rs 1,000 note are false.

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Delhi air gets toxic, NASA’s crop burning images point to worse days ahead

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The concentration of particulate matter — PM 10 and PM 2.5 — shot up twice the safe limit on Tuesday, when the national capital region’s (NCR) emergency action plan to tackle bad air came into effect, which includes a ban on diesel generator (DG) sets.

Vacuum and water-cleaning of roads will be intensified, pollution hot spots put under closer scrutiny and emission regulations are enforced under GRAP.

The Delhi government is monitoring data from NASA satellite imagery that warned that air pollution is set to worsen in Delhi on account of increase in the number of incidents of stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab.

The red dots indicate stubble burning in neighbouring states.

There was a steep rise in PM 10 and PM 2.5 — the prominent pollutants in Delhi air — over the past five days, when compared to the levels recorded in the first week of October, an analysis by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) shows.

According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data, on Tuesday, PM 10 was recorded as 263ug/m3 while PM 2.5 was 120ug/m3. The permissible standards for PM 10 and PM 2.5 are 100 and 60, respectively. The air quality index (AQI) till 4pm was 270 in the ‘poor’ category.

There was a steep rise in PM 10 and PM 2.5 — the prominent pollutants in Delhi air — over the past five days, when compared to the levels recorded in the first week of October, an analysis by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) shows.

According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data, on Tuesday, PM 10 was recorded as 263ug/m3 while PM 2.5 was 120ug/m3. The permissible standards for PM 10 and PM 2.5 are 100 and 60, respectively. The air quality index (AQI) till 4pm was 270 in the ‘poor’ category.

“There has been a rise in PM 10 levels because of dust emissions. Road dust and open storage of construction material are the major factors contributing to high PM 10 levels. We have found huge amount of dust in the air in a series of inspections,” said Bhure Lal, chairperson, Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority.

The pollution watchdog has also warned the India Metrological Department (IMD) that the air may turn ‘very poor’ on Wednesday.

“The smoke travelling to Delhi from stubble burning contributes to PM 2.5 emissions here. With the rise in number of farm fires in the past few days, there is a rise in concentration of particulate matter. Calm surface winds blowing over Delhi from the west and northwest are not able to disperse pollutants,” the analysis stated.

However, System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), a unit under Union ministry of earth sciences (MoES), said that stubble burning activity in Haryana and Punjab has shown a slight trend over the past 24 hours. The effect from stubble burning to PM 2.5 level in Delhi was 5% on Tuesday, which was lower than 9% on Sunday.

The ban on DG sets in Delhi and vicinity towns came as a pre-emptive measure under the Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) that was enforced in Delhi-NCR from Tuesday. The plan defines specific actions to tackle different levels of air pollution throughout the year.

According to a senior DPCC official, so far no violations of the generator set ban had been recorded. “We have developed a mechanism for monitoring such violations and have alerted all district heads as well as municipal corporations to inform us of any such complaint.”

Delhi sees a rise in pollution during this time of the year owing to a change in meteorological conditions, combined with local emissions and the effects of crop residue burning in neighbouring states. This is because wind patterns change and blows from the northwest during , bringing pollutants such as smoke, to Delhi with it.

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Delhi govt to announce fitness fee, GPS charges waiver for taxis

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The Delhi government on Monday gave its nod to fully waive the fitness test fees and GPS-related charges for all taxis in the national Capital. It also slashed charges of other documentation and penalties by 60-80% for all cabs registered in Delhi.

The move comes ahead of the assembly elections scheduled in Delhi early next year. As per government data, the scheme will benefit at least a lakh taxis in the city.

Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said the revised fees will be applicable only for those cabs, which are registered under an individual and not in the name of private companies.

“There are only over 15,000 such taxis that are registered directly under cab-aggregators or other taxi companies. So, the scheme will cover most of the cab drivers in Delhi. Also, after the steep hike in penalties under the amended Motor Vehicles Act, these reduced rates will come as a relief for them. It will encourage them to regularly get their cars checked for fitness and help in curbing vehicular emission,” the minister said.

In August, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had announced a similar scheme for auto-rickshaws which is now benefiting nearly 95,000 autos.

The decision to waive fitness test fees for taxis, be it manual or automatic and GPS related fees (Rs 1200 for tracking and Rs 450-Rs550 for SIM card) was taken by the Delhi Cabinet led by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday. The transport department has been asked to issue an order and roll out the scheme from November 1.

The government also slashed the fees for taking a new permit and renewing the same from the existing rate of Rs 1500 and Rs 2,000 to a flat rate of Rs 500. The revision specifically of the permit-fee will, however, need an amended in the Delhi Motor Vehicle Rules which transport department officials said will be done soon.

Besides, registering a newly bought cab will also get cheaper by 70% and so will the subsequent re-registration charges. This fee is currently Rs 1000 which has been revised to Rs 300. Duplicate registration rates will be Rs 150 instead of the current fee of Rs 500.

For drivers who have bought their taxis on loan, the government has reduced the ‘hire purchase’ or hypothecation charge from Rs 1500 to Rs 500.

Similar reductions have also been done in various penalties that are levied by the state government. The fine for delay in getting a cab checked for its fitness will be Rs 300 instead of Rs 1000.

Officials said an estimate of how much this latest scheme is going to cost the government is being ascertained. “It is likely to be less than Rs 20 crore, could be between Rs 10-15 crore in all likelihood,” said an official.

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