By: Afaq Bhat
Srinagar: The Power Development Department has decided to launch a vigorous campaign to recover the dues from willful defaulters across Jammu and Kashmir.
According to the details available with Precious Kashmir, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha recently set a three month deadline to reduce the power deficit by 10%.
After the directions issued by LG Sinha the Finance Department issued a circular directing all the departments to clear the pending electricity dues immediately. “The process has commenced and the drive to collect the power arrears won’t remain confined to the government departments only. It will be extended to the private sector also. The industrialists and owners of commercial establishments, who have turned willful defaulters, will be named and shamed if they fail to clear their pending bills,” said an official of the Power Department.
A source said that total outstanding dues from the Government departments have risen to Rs 5232 crore and despite repeated reminders, the departments have refused to clear the power bills and arrears. The defaulter departments include Jal Shakti, Health and Medical Education, Home, Irrigation and Tourism among others.
The source said that Power Department has also decided to launch a massive enforcement and inspection drive to check power theft and installation of the smart meters has been expedited. “Online portal will also be launched shortly to monitor feeder wise losses and performance of the staff. This will also keep an eye on the staff. The employees who help in collecting the revenue and getting the bills cleared will be provided with the incentives,” he added.
The source said that another major reason behind low revenue recovery is that tariff hasn’t been revised for the past four years. “Along with highest losses in the country in Jammu and Kashmir, power tariff is lowest in the Union Territory,” he added.
An official of the Power Department said, “The power scenario across J&K cannot improve till commercial as well as the domestic consumers cooperate and deposit their power bills on time. If they don’t cooperate the department will be left with no other option but to act tough against the defaulters.”
He said that the number of willful defaulters in both commercial and domestic groups has piled up over a period of time. Most of them appeared to be intentionally avoiding payment of electricity bills and arrears. “We have got clear cut directions from the higher ups to disconnect the lines of the defaulters. The department has to act tough to bridge the gap between purchase bill and revenue generated from the consumers,” the official added.