Ponnala criticises Cabinet colleagues

Ponnala criticises Cabinet colleagues

Information and technology minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah on Wednesday criticised his own Cabinet colleagues who he said lacked knowledge about the process that goes into increasing power tariffs.

Speaking to mediapersons here, the minister said that the comments made by his colleagues on the tariff hike showed their lack of understanding on the issue. “But th-eir comments are causing discomfort to the government,” he said. According to him, the government should play the role of a mere spectator in any tariff hike as it is the Electricity Regulatory Commission that decides whether or not to allow changes in tariff.

He said that though the hike was unfortunate, people have to bear the burden in unavoidable circumstances. “People will understand the government’s compulsions,” he reasoned. 0Mr Lakshmaiah said that the tariff had not been increased since 2004 but consumption had increased manifold since then. The number of agriculture pump-sets has gone up from 23 lakh to 33 lakh. The minister clarified that the increase in power charges would not be applicable to farmers and 1.19 lakh poor consumers. On the Telugu Desam organizing dharnas to oppose the hike, he said that opposition parties had the right to protest.