From Aug, power bills in Delhi to come with ‘opt-in’ form for subsidies

Residents of the Delhi will, starting next month, receive forms with their power bills that require them to opt-in to continue receiving electricity subsidies, senior government officials said, weeks after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that the state will, from October 1, offer these benefits only to those consumers who opt for it.

On Monday, the state power department held a meeting with all stakeholders, including distribution companies (discoms), where it was decided to attach forms with consumers’ electricity bills, instead of distributing it separately. Consumers will have to fill in their Voter ID number, phone number, CA number, and address, and submit it at their power distributor’s zonal centre. Consumers who don’t receive paper bills will get an e-mail attachment directing them to an online form.

“Nearly 40% of all domestic consumers in Delhi still subscribe to physical bills. So, the form will be attached with the bill along with a message from the chief minister. Other consumers who subscribe to e-bills will get an additional attachment, where they’ll be given a link to the online form. They can fill and submit the same online. But those who avail physical bills will have to submit the filled forms at the nearest zonal centres of the discoms,” said a senior official involved in the project, requesting anonymity.

Residents who don’t submit their forms till end-September will not receive subsidies from October, officials said.

But, the window for submitting the forms will be open throughout and one can opt in again anytime and their subsidy will resume from the date their application is accepted, the official added.

Since 2015, as part of an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) policy, Delhi’s domestic power consumers have received subsidies in two brackets. First, those who use up to 200 units of power a month are given a 100% waiver. Second, consumers who use 201-400 units get a subsidy of up to 800.

On an average, around 90%, or 3,039,766 of Delhi’s 5,818,231 power consumers get zero bills every month, and 1,659,976 get the 800 subsidy.

Kejriwal on May 5 said the state will subsidise electricity only for residents who “opt” for it.

“From October 1, only those consumers who opt for it will be provided the subsidy,” Kejriwal said during an online briefing.

The first draft of the form was designed on Monday and it will include a message from chief minister Arvind Kejriwal along with his picture, informing the consumer of the total subsidy the household has availed since 2015.

“Dear customer, from 2015, when the new government was formed till now, you have availed a discount of ___ in your electricity bills. Now it has been decided that from October 1, 2022, this subsidy will be given only to those who opt for it. If you want to continue getting the subsidy, then kindly fill the following form and submit it to the mentioned address, yours Arvind Kejriwal:” read the draft letter alongside which the form will be printed.

The form also starts with a “thank you” from the consumer to the Delhi government.

“Respected chief minister, I thank you for the rebate given to us in our electricity bills till today. I want the subsidy which I have been getting to continue. I will be grateful to you for the same,” it said.

The Delhi government provides power subsidies to five categories of consumers — domestic consumers (4.69 million), anti-Sikh riot victims (758 consumers), agricultural consumers (10,676), and lawyers (4,899) whose chambers are within the court complex. The number of subsidised connections totals to 4,716,075 consumers across all categories.

The government’s expenditure on the power subsidy scheme has increased by 125.26% from its first year in 2015-16 till 2022-23.

The amount of subsidies released in the first year (2015-16) of the AAP government was 1,442.76 crore, which increased to 2,939.99 crore in 2020-21. For 2022-23, the government has allocated about 3,250 crore for power subsidies.