Chandrasekhar Durga Puja pandal in the making on Main Road in Ranchi on Tuesday. (Hardeep Singh)
Pay up or face the music is the message Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) is sending out to Durga Puja organisers in the capital this year.
The board has directed Puja committees to take legal power connections for all their decorations and refrain from pilfering. The Mahanagar Durga Puja Samiti — the umbrella outfit of organisers in Ranchi — has been roped in to crack the whip on errant members.
“The Puja samitis have been told when they are engaged in something as sacred as organising a Durga Puja, they should not steal power to decorate their pandals. The Mahanagar Durga Puja Samiti has agreed to ensure that all its members take legal power connections,” said Ramjanam Singh, superintending engineer of JSEB, Ranchi circle.
Mahanagar Durga Puja Samiti has 135 organisers as members. Of these, 30 are big-ticket events, which are well-known for their elaborate and power guzzling lighting arrangements.
Last year, only 85 pandals had taken legal power connections from JSEB. The rest either resorted to hooking or made “special arrangements” with houses in the neighbourhood.
“All member organisers have been directed to take legal power connection and refrain from hooking. Just before the Puja begins, we will carry out checks to ensure all pandals have legal connections,” said Krishna Yadav, president of Mahanagar Durga Puja Samiti.
It is usually the low-budget Puja pandals that resort to hooking. With their budget not exceeding Rs 50,000, these pandals make do with minimal lighting and don’t even bother to take the legal route.
However, according to sources, some big pandals manage a part of the lighting arrangements with stolen power to keep down costs.
As per rules, pandals have to apply for temporary power connections from JSEB. The electricity body gives the special Puja connection and sets up meters to measure the units consumed. JSEB officials said the power body usually charges commercial connections Rs 1,240 for every kilovolt. However, special tariffs apply for Puja pandals.
“The tariff for this year is now being worked out. Different pandals opt for different load capacity according to their needs. A big pandal usually takes anywhere between 5 and10KV load. Thus, it has to dole out anywhere between Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 on electricity,” an official said.
The 30 big pandals would thus contribute about Rs 2 lakh to the JSEB coffers. The smaller pandals collectively consume power worth another Rs 1.5 lakh. However, as the small pandals rarely take legal connections, JSEB loses out on revenue in the bargain.
In a notice issued two days ago, JESB asked Puja organisers to take all necessary precautions to prevent electrical faults and mishaps. The pandals have been asked to set up the control panels in a place that is away from the crowd. They have also been asked not to use short wires and ensure proper earthing.
“Pandals also have been asked to keep fire extinguishers and sand buckets handy. The electricity work should be carried out by trained people,” said an official.
He added that JSEB teams will go around the city to disconnect power supply to pandals that do not take legal connections.