The long-standing dispute between Bidhannagar Municipality and the West Bengal State Electricity Board (WBSEB) over accumulating dues looks set to be resolved, following a pact to adjust arrears. A bilateral meeting held last Friday decided to fix August 2002 as the cut-off date, till which time arrears of both the organisations, payable to each other, will be paid after adjusting outstanding amounts.
“August has been fixed as the cut-off date for payment of dues and from September this year, all bills will be paid instantly,” said Tapan Talukdar, chairman-in-council, Bidhannagar Municipality. However, WBSEB officials have sought a clarification from the municipality regarding the municipal tax on its holdings.
“Once they send the clarification, our management will discuss the issue and if it is satisfied, we can pay the adjusted amount,” a WBSEB official said.
The Board had earlier alleged that tax bills sent by Bidhannagar Municipality were much higher than the existing amount. In a letter to the chairman of the municipality, former SEB secretary A.R. Bardhan said the Rs 4-crore bill sent by the civic authorities was much too high.
“There seems to be some misinformation over the amount of tax, since the said amount is 4,331 per cent higher than the current municipal tax,” Bardhan wrote in his letter.
This year, the Board claimed that the outstanding power bill amounts to Rs 5.5 crore for high-tension connections and Rs 30 lakh for low and medium-range connections. The municipality countered that the tax holdings of WBSEB add up to nearly Rs 6 crore. Although the municipality wanted to adjust the outstandings, the Board had rejected such proposals earlier. “The WBSEB’s tax dues should not be linked with Bidhannagar Municipality’s power dues,” Deepak Ganguly, SEB’s member, operations, had said.
The dispute reached flashpoint earlier this month when the WBSEB disconnected power supplies to GD, CK and BJ markets and water supply to Baisakhi, Purbachal and Srabani housing estates and AK Park. Supply was also cut to the streetlights of the Salt Lake Bypass. The connections were later restored after municipal and urban development officials paid up the dues.
“It has been decided that the SEB will not disconnect supplies which affect civic amenities,” said Talukdar. “If there is any dispute, it will be sorted out through negotiations. Meetings will be held every two months,” he added.