His school housed paramilitary forces for seven days during the last Assembly elections. As with other schools he had received a letter from the SDO office. But unlike with other schools, the electric bill that came to him after a month was of an astounding Rs 71,776.
R.N. Tewari, headmaster of Bansberia Ganges High School (Hindi medium), has since been running from pillar to post, rather from police to the administration, for no one wants to accept responsibility.
About 200 BSF men had occupied 15 rooms of the school for seven days.
Tewari says the extraordinary amount was because of the paramilitary forces electricity usage. Usually the bill comes to about Rs 8,000 to Rs 9,000 per month. With fines the bill has gone up to Rs 87,403.
Tewari wants the government to pay the amount. But no government agency has agreed. The electricity board has threatened to withdraw the connection.
Tewari met Trinamul MLA from Saptagram Tapan Dasgupta, who advised him to write a letter to the principal secretary.
“Following the SDO’s letter we allowed the paramilitary forces to take over the premises from April 28, 2011. They left on May 4. The bill for March to May was of Rs 71,776. We got in touch with the station superintendent of Bansberia electric supply office. He said that the meter was all right,” says Tewari.
Thus began the shuttling from pillar to post. Tewari met the officer in charge of Mogra police station and on request showed him the electricity bill for May 2010, as proof of average consumption. But it led to no solution.
Tewari has got in touch with other district officials – SDO, additional district magistrate, district magistrate, superintendent of police. But none of them has been able to help either.
The new government is 16 months old and in these months Tewari has made 32 visits to various offices.
“I don’t know how I will pay the bill. The electricity board agreed to accept the money in 12 instalments of Rs 7,283 each. But I have not been able to pay that even,” says Tewari.
Says Arunava Saha, Bansberia West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) station superintendent: “I was present at the meter reading. There was nothing wrong with it. The paramilitary forces had used a lot of equipment, including heaters. We attempted to disconnect the electricity twice, but didn’t.”
The officer in charge of a Hooghly police station said that the police have to arrange for the accommodation of paramilitary forces during an election.
“After they leave we ask the school authorities to clear the bills and compensate them. But within limits, as the superintendent allows a contingency fund for every station, which is not more than Rs 10,000. Some get Rs 2,000.”
It seems that if the guests overuse facilities, the school has to pay.
Superintendent of police Tanmay Roychowdhury says he will try to get some money.
“But I think he did not get in touch with us at the right time as the election funds have been returned a long time ago,” Tewari says.