Power revenue loss in hills clocks Rs 60 crore Electricity line snap ruled out
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- Published 12.08.10
|Who is paying the bill? A lit-up Darjeeling town on Wednesday evening. Picture by Suman Tamang|
Siliguri, Aug. 11: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s non-cooperation movement and boycott of government taxes and revenues have cost the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited Rs 60 crore and counting.
Malay Kumar De, the chairperson and managing director of the company, who was speaking on the sidelines of a seminar on power organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, said the state government’s help had been sought to resolve the crisis as the loss increases with each passing month.
The Morcha had stopped paying revenue-related bills like telephone, power and other central and state levies since April 2008.
“Considering the present state of affairs in the hills, we are not in a position either to collect the money due to us or disconnect the power line of the defaulters. The amount due in the three hill subdivision of Kurseong, Kalimpong and Darjeeling is Rs 60 crore since April 2008 and we have approached the state government to provide necessary support to realise the money,” De told reporters.
Without naming any individual or political party, he hinted that the situation in the hills was such that disconnecting lines to defaulting households would cause a law and order problem and also have adverse effects on the company staff and assets. At present, though the company carries out maintenance and repairs in the hills, all its bill collection counters continue to remain closed.
De avoided commenting on any specific reason why the department is unable to collect the amount and said: “Till March 2008, the collection in the hills was normal. Irregularities started only after that. But once we get the assistance from the government, it would be easier for us to collect the amount.” He, however, did not elaborate on the kind of assistance he expected from the state government.
According to officials of the company posted in the hills, there was no question of disconnecting electricity connections in the hills. “We maintain and repair the power lines on a regular basis and will continue to do so till further orders. If we start disconnecting lines there is a strong likelihood of a law and order problem,” a staff member of the company in Darjeeling said. He said the average monthly collection from electricity bills in the three hill subdivisions was Rs 2 crore.
De said the department would introduce pre-paid meter in all the major towns in the state very shortly for which no security deposit would be required.
“We have already introduced such meters in Salt Lake in Calcutta a couple of months back and within next five to six months we will also introduce it in Siliguri, Asansol and Durgapur,” he said.
The company has recently introduced round-the-clock maintenance services in all its zones including Siliguri that comprises Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur districts. Pradip Dey, the Siliguri zonal manager, said the toll free number for maintenance is 18003453206.