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Power gets dearer for social events

Bhubaneswar, April 27: Puja mandaps and organisers of social and cultural events in the state will have to pay more for consuming power from this year. They will have to pay 10 per cent extra than the existing rate.

Secretary of Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) G.K. Dhal said: “The commission has not hiked power tariff for the common consumers. But, it has decided to impose a 10 per cent hike in the tariff for temporary connections from this year.”

Temporary power supply connections are usually given to puja mandaps, jatras (theatres), open air cultural events and also to construction sites. It can be given for a maximum period of six months at a stretch.

Central Electricity Supply Utility (CESU) ’s superintending engineer of Bhubaneswar electrical circle Sukant Kumar Swain said: “It is an welcome order. At the moment, we have not kept a separate record on how much revenue we collect from temporary connections in the city. On an average, our collection will not be more than Rs 1 crore on this account. With the hike, we will be able to generate another Rs 10 lakh.”

Cesu, which supplies power to the coastal belt, collects revenue from temporary connection during Durga Puja, Ganesh Puja and Viswkarma Puja and various dance and music festivals. As most of the marriage ceremonies and receptions take place at kalyan mandaps, Cesu will not be able to get more money as most of the mandaps have permanent connections.

“We get a good amount of money from two fair grounds — Unit-III exhibition ground and Janata Maidan — in Bhubaneswar where many festivals and meetings are being organised round the year,” said Swain.

Cesu chief executive officer Sudarshan Nayak said: “We have incurred a loss to the tune of Rs 40 crore last year. The amount to be collected from temporary connections will not solve our problem. Everyone knows how difficult it is to collect money from puja mandaps and other social and cultural organisations. Even we cannot stop supply of power to them for various reasons. There could be law and order situations.”

However, the puja organisers have sharply reacted to it. Chief advisor of the Saheed Nagar Durga Puja Committee Jagannath Mohapatra said: “All the religious activities should be exempted from it. The pujas are associated with the sentiments of the people. These are benevolent activities. Now with this tariff hike, there will be an additional burden on the puja mandaps.”

Nayapalli Durga Puja Committee president Pabitra Mohan Behera said: “Only we know how do we manage to organise puja without asking for donations from the public. The tariff order will only create more problem for us. We will urge the power authorities not to charge us on this account.”

In yet another move, the OERC has asked the power distribution companies to introduce a smart card on a pilot basis to check the power pilferage by March next year.

“The smart card is like a pre-paid metre. The consumers will 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 limit is exhausted, power will be disconnected automatically.