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Kalimpong hotels told to clear power dues

Kalimpong, Jan. 24: Hotels here have been asked to pay their electricity dues accumulated during the non-co-operation movement enforced by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha by January 29, failing which their lines will be disconnected.

As part of the non-co-operation movement from April 2008 to July 2011, the people of the Darjeeling hills had been asked not to pay power and telephone bills and sales tax. The notices to clear the dues were issued by the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd.

Sources said the distribution utility had decided to realise the dues in the hills at a meeting in Calcutta on December 26 last year. The power utility also decided to accept payments in installments.

The Hotel and Restaurant Owners’ Association of Kalimpong said each of its 45 members had dues ranging from Rs 2 lakh to over Rs 5 lakh. “Our members have received the notices from the electricity board in the last few days. We are law-abiding citizens and prior to the agitation had always paid our bills on time. It was at the call of the Morcha that we were forced to stop paying our bills to extend our support to the statehood agitation. Now that we are being asked to clear the dues, the party must come to our aid and settle the matter once and for all,” said the president of the association, Sanjogita Subba.

Kalimpong MLA and Morcha spokesman Harka Bahadur Chhetri said he would take up the matter with the power minister in Calcutta soon.