Bhubaneswar, Jan. 22: The state government has decided to install pre-paid meters in all the government offices — starting from blocks to the secretariat — to curb misuse of electricity.
The process to set up the meters will start from April 1. In the next phase, the step will be extended to the state-run public sector units.
Energy secretary Pradeep Jena said: “The installation of pre-paid meters has been a huge success in many pockets of Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. So, we have also decided to install it to check misuse of power in the government offices.”
Sources said huge electricity bills being incurred by government offices across the state had prompted the move. “In many cases, we have found that the electric bill of a block office has gone up to Rs 5,000 a month. Officials even do not take care to switch off the lights before leaving offices. This leads to wastage of power while putting pressure on the exchequer,” said an official.
Explaining the scheme, Jena said all offices would be given a voucher for a month to use power. The user will also get text messages on the remaining balance in the last week of each month. Once the voucher’s money limit is exhausted, power will be disconnected automatically. If they exceed the limit, they are likely to invite punitive action from the finance department,” said Jena.
The energy department is also thinking of buying a software to prevent any possible manipulation of vouchers by the users.
The payment situation of government offices, so far power is concerned, is so bad that after the distribution companies had served them with notices, they were saved by top-level intervention and a plan was formulated to clear the dues. Sources said a meeting was held in this regard in the first week of this month under the chairmanship of the development commissioner.
“It was decided that Gridco will take steps to reconcile electricity arrears of Odisha Lift Irrigation Limited and also that of the government departments. The dues will be adjusted against the interest and the principal loan availed by Gridco and the distribution companies from the state government,” said another official.
According to sources, the Central Electricity Supply Utility’s total outstanding dues as on March 31 pertaining to state government departments was around Rs 57.85 crore.
While the Southern Electricity Supply Company’s dues on government offices was Rs 48 crore, the Western Electricity Supply Company’s dues stood at Rs 33.93 crore and the North-eastern Electricity Supply Company’s claim on the government offices is Rs 43.38 crore.
“We have already initiated steps to pay their money,” said an official.
The energy secretary, who is also the chairman of the power distribution companies, said the distribution companies would collapse if their dues were not settled. “The balance sheet of all the distribution companies presently stands at zero. No bank is interested to give us loans. We have to do something about it,” he said.