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Court bar on power security deposit

Calcutta, Dec. 15: The high court today passed an interim order restraining the West Bengal State Electricity Board from claiming additional security deposits from the industrial sector for new connections.

Justice Barin Ghosh described the board’s decision to collect money from industrialists by way of additional security deposit as “funny”. He said the agency had no right to claim the amount till further order.

The judge gave the restraint order after hearing a petition filed by the United India Electricity Consumers’ Welfare Association, an organisation of at least 450 owners of small and medium industries. The association had challenged the levy of additional security deposit for new connections.

The petitioners had alleged that the board claimed between Rs 3,000 and Rs 70,000 from them for new connections. They also told the court that the board was claiming the money on the basis of a draft Electricity Regulatory Commission proposal.

Power minister Mrinal Bandyopadhyay today said the board has received Rs 216 crore from the Centre to improve services.

The department would get Rs 200 crore more from Delhi soon for bringing down its losses, said the minister. The board would take up eight projects with the money, 25 per cent of which comes as grant, 25 per cent as central loan and the rest as loan from the Power Finance Commission and Rural Electrification Corporation.

“Work has started,” Bandyopadhyay said. It includes sub-transmission and distribution projects, a system to map consumers, improving the divisional computer centres and setting up computerised billing centres.

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