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Salary axe on erring officials

Jammu, Dec. 24: Jammu and Kashmir finance minister Muzzaffar Hussein Beigh has put on notice more than five lakh state government employees — pay up your electricity bills or forgo your salaries.

The stunner came close on heels of Beigh’s disclosure that the state’s power dues had accumulated to nearly Rs 2,200 crore, while only Rs 100 crore had been recovered. The finance minister said the state government had been generous by reducing load shedding.

The minister urged people to pay up their electricity dues so that the administration is able to reduce its power liabilities and ensure uninterrupted supply.

As a step to full recovery of power dues, the government is installing electricity meters at the residences of all government officials, whose power bills would now be deducted at source.

Beigh said the government has asked wage-disbursement officials not to pay staff salaries for March 2003 unless employees get a clearance certificate from the power development department that there were no outstanding dues.

“In future, the bills of the contractors would not be cleared by the departments concerned unless they get a certificate from the PDD that they have cleared their outstanding power dues,” the minister said.

The warning was issued after the state government was hauled up by the Centre for not paying its own power bills and told to clear all outstanding payments before expecting to draw more power from the northern grid, sources said.

The new administration under chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed showed its first signs of abiding by its “healing touch” doctrine by reducing power cuts across the state. It is also spending an additional Rs 55 crore to purchase power.

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