PDD Flogs Public As Big Guns Make Merry

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SRINAGAR: At a time when the government is grappling with the perennial power crisis in the state, its Power Development Department has spilled the beans about its own complicity in deepening the rot. A notice issued to just 130 “defaulting consumers,” majority of them in Jammu division, exposes its own failure to realize the whopping tariff dues of over Rs 53 crore from the big sharks, who include politicians and their relatives, businessmen, and even government institutions.

The top-heavy department has issued the notice under section 50 of the J&K Electricity Act 2010 read with regulation 8.3 of J&K SERC Supply Code Regulation 2011, asking the “favored VIP” consumers to square up their outstanding within two weeks or else face snapping of their supply “without further notice.” In the event of dispute, they have to deposit the arrears “under protest pending disposal of their cases.” 

Of the 130 consumers whose individual arrears ending December 31, 2012 equal to Rs 10 lakh and above, 103 are from Jammu division and 27 from Kashmir. The outstanding against Jammu consumers adds up to Rs 39.96 crore (over 74 per cent) while the arrears against those in Kashmir total Rs 13.91 crore (26 per cent.). There are at least 10 “defaulting consumers” whose outstanding dues run into crores. Of them, M/S Renuka Food Process, Samba, owes Rs 10.48 crore; J&K Minerals, Wuyan and Valley Cements, Khrew, Rs 2.60 crore each.

Interestingly, the “defaulters” include the famed Hari Niwas Palace of senior Congress leader and former Sadr-e-Riyasat and union minister, Dr Karan Singh; and M/s Simula Software Solutions & Research Centre, Jammu, belonging to the son of finance minister, Abdul Rahim Rathar, whom the PDD authorities had vainly given a clean chit after the alleged detection of power theft by the consumer. 

Well placed PDD sources said a penalty of Rs 21 lakh had been imposed on the junior Rathar’s company sometime in July last year following the inspection of his facility during which he had been allegedly found consuming 95 kilowatt energy against his agreed load of five kw. However, they alleged, the consumer had neither cleared the penalty nor deposited any normal tariff ever since as the accumulated Rs 31,91,822 of his outstanding against him would show.  

Sources said the PDD authorities were wary about recovery of the huge arrears from the “pampered” consumers. The moot point is how the department, which is never tired of urging consumers to pay their dues promptly, had allowed the chosen lot to run into heavy arrears to the tune of hundreds of lakhs. Incidentally, the department is headed by none other than the chief minister himself.

It may be recalled the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission had recently imposed “personal penalty” of Rs one lakh on the PDD commissioner/secretary for government’s failure to deposit Rs 435 crore outstanding dues and, in the event of its failure to do so by the prescribed deadline, even asked the Union Finance ministry to make good the amount from the state’s annual plan funds. The directive had followed after the state Finance Department had refused to provide the funds for the purpose.

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