Home India News Over 465,000 Haryana power defaulters face disconnections

Over 465,000 Haryana power defaulters face disconnections

By Jaideep Sarin, IANS

Chandigarh : The summer this year may just get hotter for over 465,000 electricity consumers in Haryana who have not paid their power bills and arrears for more than a decade.

The state's power agencies have decided to disconnect their electricity supply as they failed to comply with a special amnesty scheme of the state government for power defaulters.

Under the scheme, a Rs. 16 billion (Rs. 1,600 crore) waiver for the defaulters was announced by the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government in June 2005.

Out of the 4.1 million electricity consumers in the 'fully electrified' state, there were 1.38 million consumers who had not been paying electricity bills and arrears for over a decade till 2005.

"The power utilities (distribution agencies) have to deal with the non-paying defaulters at their own level. The state government does not come into the picture on this count. Our (state government) role was limited to announcing the amnesty scheme. Power supply of defaulters should be disconnected," Haryana financial commissioner and principal secretary-power Ashok Lavasa told IANS here.

The Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam – that supplies power in north Haryana districts – has already disconnected power supply to nearly 40,000 consumers in April and May, a Nigam official said. Thousands of consumers will face disconnection within this year.

Nearly 60,000 defaulters face disconnections in Ambala and Panchkula districts, 63,000 in Yamunanagar, 60,000 in Kurukshetra and Kaithal, 48,000 in Karnal, 25,000 in Panipat, 48,000 in Sonipat, 60,000 in chief minister Hooda's home district of Rohtak and 36,000 in Jind.

The amnesty scheme announced two years ago was aimed at bringing the non-paying consumers back into the fold of bill payers and save the power distribution agencies from further losses.

According to the scheme, the defaulters had to continuously pay 10 electricity bills, spanning 20 months, after the commencement of the scheme. If they paid these bills, their previous bills and arrears were waived off.

"The positive thing about the scheme is that over 921,000 consumers out of the 1.38 million defaulters have been brought back into the fold of paying consumers. This is a big achievement. Rest is up to the power utilities to deal with the remaining defaulters on their own," Lavasa said.

The consumers who availed themselves of the scheme deposited over Rs 3.34 billion as payment of new bills between June 2005 and Feb 2007 (20 months), he said.

The Hooda government will foot most of the amount of the Rs. 16 billion arrears that the power utility agencies had to recover from consumers. The defaulters included domestic, commercial and tubewell power supply consumers.

Arrears to the tune of over Rs. 12 billion (Rs 1,206 crore) have already been waived under the scheme after consumers paid up the bills regularly.

"We have purchased power at rates as high as Rs 7.25 per unit. We expect consumers to share some burden at least by paying bills regularly," a senior Nigam officer said.