Adityapur Small Industries Association (ASIA) president Inder Agrawal on Thursday accused the state-run discom Jharkhand Bijli Vitran Nigam Limited (JBVNL) of reluctance in giving the mandatory no-objection certificate (NoC) to owners of industrial units who want to switch over to Jusco, the wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Steel, as their power supplier.
ASIA president Agrawal said that of the 900-odd units in the industrial hub, so far over 200 entrepreneurs had switched over to Jusco, perceived as a far more reliable supplier.
“Jusco started operating here (the Adityapur industrial hub that flanks Jamshedpur) 12 years ago, but in the past one year, the pace of people shifting over to Jusco power from JBVNL has really slackened. And this is not because the JBVNL has shown any big improvement, but because it has developed a new strategy to harass entrepreneurs who want to switch over to Jusco,” Agrawal told The Telegraph.
Agrawal minced no words to say an entrepreneur had to display tremendous stamina in procuring the mandatory NoC from the state discom. “Under norms, the entrepreneur has to clear all power dues of the JBVNL before switching over to another supplier. But as soon as the entrepreneur applies for an NoC, the discom hands him an inflated bill,” Agrawal said bluntly.
On the kind of “inflation”, Agrawal gave an example: “Say, the entrepreneur has Rs 50,000 as pending dues, but he will get Rs 3 lakh or so. So, the entrepreneur is forced to settle the matter with JBVNL by paying a huge amount as bribe to the discom official concerned,” Agrawal said.
The president of the industrialists’ outfit added that currently over a dozen NoC applications were pending as the entrepreneurs wanted to buy power from Jusco.
Agrawal refused to tar all government agencies with the same brush, calling government-run Labour and Factory Inspection Office “satisfactory”, but said the JBVNL really had to pull up its socks.
JBVNL Singhbhum electricity area board general manager Arvind Kumar, however, claimed no entrepreneur faced any problem in switching over to Jusco power.
“We have given NoCs to a large number of entrepreneurs. All those entrepreneurs who clear our power bills in full will get the NoC in future too,” Kumar told The Telegraph. The general manager added that if any industrial consumer was harassed he could lodge a complaint.
A key functionary of ASIA, who did not come on quote, disagreed with the general manager’s assertion. Pointing out the arrest of an SDO (electrical) in Manoharpur, West Singhbhum, for demanding a bribe earlier this week, which The Telegraph had reported, the ASIA functionary said: “Everyone in JBVNL, from a linesman to top officials, takes bribes. The state government has started an online system for transparency, but it makes no difference.”