Guwahati: Assam Wednesday defended the decision of its energy distribution company to hike tariffs, saying this was necessary to offset high input costs."

The decision has been taken by the three-member independent Assam Electricity Regulatory Authority (AERC). The hike is only to cover the surcharge due to rising prices of natural gas, coal and other inputs," state Power Minister Pradyut Bordoloi said while interacting with media here.

The minister said that the hike announced by Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd (APDCL) was only 27 paise per unit. It would be effective from Nov 1. The current average tariff of all segments is Rs.4.01 per unit and the last time it was hiked was in May 2011, he pointed out."

The price of natural gas per thousand cubic metre had gone up to around Rs.6,400 from around Rs.3,800 in the last couple of years and there was increase in price of coal as well," he said, justifying the increase in power tariff. He said that the hike is under the Fuel and Power Purchase Price Adjustment (FPPPA) and that the AERC has given its nod for the hike.

The power minister also said that the first phase of the 726 MW gas-based Palatana Power plant in Tripura has been commissioned. Assam is scheduled to get 140 MW from the project when it would be fully functional.

The minister said that the state has already started building the lines and infrastructure for drawing the power it will receive when the second phase of the Palatana project is commissioned, expectedly by next year.

(Agencies)

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