The Delhi government’s decision to end electricity subsidies has been a controversial one, with many people wondering why such a move was made. The decision was announced in 2021, and since then, there has been a lot of debate about the pros and cons of this policy. In this article, we will explore the reasons why the Delhi government decided to end electricity subsidies.
Firstly, it is important to understand what the electricity subsidy was and who it benefited. The subsidy was introduced by the Delhi government in 2015 to provide relief to low-income households who were struggling to pay their electricity bills. Under this scheme, households that consumed less than 400 units of electricity per month were given a subsidy of Rs 1.20 per unit. This helped to reduce the electricity bill for these households, making it easier for them to afford basic amenities.
However, in 2021, the Delhi government decided to end this subsidy. There were several reasons behind this decision. One of the main reasons was the financial burden that the subsidy was placing on the government. The subsidy was costing the government around Rs 1,200 crore per year, which was a significant amount of money. With limited financial resources, the government had to make tough choices about where to allocate its funds. It was felt that ending the subsidy would free up funds that could be used for other important initiatives, such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure development.
Another reason for ending the subsidy was to encourage people to conserve electricity. The subsidy had led to an increase in electricity consumption, as people felt that they could afford to use more electricity without worrying about the cost. This was not sustainable in the long run, as it would lead to a higher demand for electricity, which would in turn lead to higher prices. By ending the subsidy, the government hoped to encourage people to be more mindful of their electricity consumption and to adopt energy-efficient practices.
Finally, there was a perception that the subsidy was being misused by some people who did not need it. There were reports of people with high incomes and large homes receiving the subsidy, which was meant to benefit low-income households. This was seen as unfair and wasteful, and it was felt that ending the subsidy would help to address this issue.
In conclusion, the decision by the Delhi government to end electricity subsidies was not an easy one, but it was made with the long-term interests of the city in mind. The financial burden of the subsidy, coupled with the need to promote energy conservation and address misuse, led to the decision to end the scheme. While this may have been a difficult decision for some, it was a necessary step in ensuring that the city’s resources are used effectively and efficiently.
The role of the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi in ending the electricity subsidy is a matter of legal and constitutional interpretation. The LG is the head of the Union Territory of Delhi and represents the central government in the administration of the city. Under the Indian Constitution, the LG has certain powers and responsibilities, including the power to approve or reject decisions made by the elected government of Delhi.
In the case of the electricity subsidy, the Delhi government had initially proposed to continue the subsidy for low-income households. However, the LG objected to this proposal and directed the government to end the subsidy. The LG’s decision was based on the grounds that the subsidy was financially unsustainable and would create a burden on the state’s finances in the long term. The LG’s decision was also based on the belief that the subsidy was being misused by some people who did not actually need it, leading to a situation where the benefits of the subsidy were not reaching the intended beneficiaries.
The Delhi government, led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, had opposed the LG’s decision and argued that it was unconstitutional. The government had argued that the LG was overstepping his authority by interfering in matters that fell under the jurisdiction of the elected government. The dispute over the electricity subsidy led to a prolonged legal battle, with the matter eventually being referred to the Supreme Court.
In July 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the LG had the power to take decisions on matters of public interest, including the subsidy. However, the court also held that the LG could not act as an obstructionist and must work in tandem with the elected government. The court also clarified that the LG could not exercise his powers in a way that would impede the democratic functioning of the government.
In conclusion, the LG played a role in ending the electricity subsidy in Delhi by exercising his powers as the head of the Union Territory. However, the decision was based on the LG’s interpretation of the law and his assessment of the financial and social implications of the subsidy. The decision was challenged by the elected government, but ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court.