NEW DELHI, March 26 India's Supreme Court on
Wednesday told producer NTPC Ltd to continue supplying
power to New Delhi while it waits for money it is owed by a
distribution company, avoiding a possible blackout in the
In an escalating battle over who should shoulder the rising
cost of power in the city, distribution companies have said they
cannot pay the money they owe while electricity tariffs are kept
low and they suffer revenue shortfalls.
State-run NTPC had threatened in February to cut off power
supply to BSES Yamuna Power, one of the three distributors in
Delhi, if the company did not pay its bill.
But the Supreme Court reiterated that NTPC must maintain
power supply even while it is owed money, and ordered BSES, part
of billionaire Anil Ambani's Reliance Infrastructure Ltd
, to pay the dues it owes since Jan. 1, 2014. It did
not specify the amount BSES must pay.
India's power sector, hobbled by rising debts and fuel
supply shortages, has struggled to increase output to meet
rising demand. Blackouts are common, hurting Asia's
The case in Delhi reflects a growing demand in India, where
many consider cheap or free power to be a right and not a
privilege, for electricity tariffs to be kept low.
An anti-graft party claimed a surprise victory in Delhi
state elections last year, partly on the back of promises to
lower tariffs for voters.
But pressure to keep prices low makes it tough for
distributors to force through tariff rises they say are
necessary to keep pace with the increase in the cost of power.
The three distributors in Delhi say they face a revenue
loss, built up over years of operations, totalling more than 150
billion rupees ($2.4 billion).
The Supreme Court said that over coming weeks it will seek
information from the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission and
BSES on how to resolve the revenue shortfall, and asked the
commission to ensure there is no unnecessary delay in paying the
(Reporting by Suchitra Mohanty; Writing by Tommy Wilkes;
Editing by Anthony Barker)