For the thousands of people who had been waiting for the code of conduct to be lifted, so that their pending works could be taken up, the first few decisions of the government would come as a majot dampener.
Instead of any good news coming the way of the people, what they have learnt is that they are going to have to pay more for the electricity they consume and also more for every time they board the bus. Yes, a power tariff hike and a transport fare increase are what the government has presented to the people in the first week after the model code of conduct was lifted.
The electricity tariff has been raised by a minimum of three paise per unit going up to seven paise per unit for domestic consumers, as per the consumption. The higher the consumption, the higher is the tariff hike. While this amount in paises appears to be negligible, the final amount that the consumer will pay will depend on the number of units used. According to research available, a few years ago an Indian house consumed on an average 90 units of electricity per month. This was the amount of power required to run four tubelights, four ceiling fans, a small refrigerator and small kitchen appliances. Such a house hold will have to pay an additional Rs 2.7 to Rs 3 per month.
But, trends have changed, and in the summer months airconditioners have almost become the norm in many houses, and these are major consumers of electricity. So too have the number of gadgets that are used by a family with cellphone chargers, computers, televisions, water heaters and other appliances being used. In such cases, the consumption could well go to the above 400 units, which would lead to a hike of Rs 7.52 per unit, so a household using 401 units a month would pay an additional Rs 30. The commercial and industrial consumers too have not been spared a hike in their tariff.
In the transport sector, the minimum fare will now be Rs 10 for the first three km. Earlier, by paying the same amount you could travel for four km. The bus fare hike will pinch quite a few pockets, as an additional Rs 5 will be charged for any distance between three to eight km, and another Rs 5 for every subsequent eight km. Before the hike, for every subsequent eight km of part thereof, Rs 5 was charged. Those using the shuttle services will now pay Rs 1.40 per km, while for the airconditioned bus the fare per km will be Rs 2.
These are two services that the aam aadmi uses on a daily basis and everytime there has been a hike, there have been protests. But while the government readily increases the tariff, there is never a corresponding improvement in the facilities.
Power outages have not stopped. The lines keep tripping and there are complaints of sudden surges of power that affect the appliances used. Power supply in rural areas is below average and the supply trips at various times during the day. The city areas that have underground cabling are the only areas where there is proper supply, but even this does trip. The situation is hardly better with the transport sector. Private bus operators are known to delay departures, crawl on the road so as to get more passengers, drivers and conductors seldom wear their uniforms, and tickets are rarely given to the travelling public.
It is when this changes for the better, that people won’t mind paying for the services. Steps in improving the power supply system and bringing the private bus transporters in line have to be initiated, then only should the tariffs be increased. Nobody will mind paying a higher price for a better service.