The district administration convened a meeting here on Wednesday as part of an attempt to recover electricity dues to the tune of Rs 116 crore which piled up over the past five years because of a call by the Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association not to pay power bills.
The GCPA made the call for the non-payment to exert pressure on the Bengal government to fulfil the demand for a separate state.
The non-payment campaign was spearheaded by the GCPA leader Bangshibadan Burman who is now the chairman of the West Bengal Rajbanshi Development and Cultural Board and the vice-chairman of Rajbanshi Bhasa Academy which were formed by the Mamata Banerjee government.
When chief minister Mamata Banerjee visited the district last month, she expressed concern over the huge power dues in the presence of Burman and asked the district administration and officials of the West Bengal State Electricity Development Corporation Ltd to take the initiative to recover the dues.
Accordingly, the district administration held a meeting on Wednesday where panchayat pradhans and panchayat samiti sabhapatis were called.
North Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh and senior officials of civil and police administration were also present.
“The elected representatives have been asked to start a campaign in their areas for payment of power bills. We feel it would be effective as in some of the panchayats, the elected representatives have helped employees of the power department recover the dues,” said Kaushik Saha, the district magistrate of Cooch Behar.
Administrative sources said task forces to recover the dues had been formed in at block and sub-division levels.
“Camps would be held in remote areas where people can come and clear the dues. We are also thinking of allowing payment in installments,” said an official.
Burmansaid: “There is a development fund with the government, which has been created out of the cash and other properties left by the royal family for residents of Cooch Behar. If the state wants, it can use the funds to clear the dues.”