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Chronic defaulters still getting ‘free electricity’

Srinagar, Jan 27: The authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have not taken any strict action against the major defaulters of electricity dues.

The Power Development Department (PDD), which pushes the middle-class consumers to pay off the bills, somehow hasn’t been able to recover arrears running in crores from some top politicians and businessmen of the state.

 

Each year, the PDD prepares (and sometimes even publishes) the list of the chronic defaulters, however, fails to take any action against them.

The PDD recently released two lists of its defaulters in the state. The first one consisted of those who owe Rs 1-2 lakh to the department, while the second one has the names of those defaulters who have pending arrears of over Rs 5 lakh.

The list includes prominent politicians, high class businessmen, bureaucrats, telecom firms, security installations, well known industrialists and government offices.

Former J&K Deputy Chief Minister and prominent BJP leader, Dr Nirmal Singh, senior PDP leader and former minister Naeem Akhter, former minister Pawan Gupta among others are listed as defaulters in the list issued by the PDD.

The department had warned that it would disconnect the electricity supply of all the defaulters if they failed to clear their entire dues within two weeks.“The Department has served disconnection notice to the defaulting consumers asking them to liquidate their balance electricity charges within two weeks failing which their electricity supply will be disconnected without any further notice as per Section 50 of Jammu and Kashmir Electricity Act,” reads the document.

According to official figures, administrative departments alone owe over Rs 53 crore to the PDD.

Some of the major defaulters in government departments include Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) that has a total outstanding of Rs 6.73 crore;

Health department owes Rs 9.20 crore; and Revenue department owes Rs 1.89 crore to the PDD.

Among government forces, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and JK police owe Rs 19.97 crore and Rs 1.41 crore respectively to the Power Department.

Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, PDD Chief Engineer, Hashmat Qazi said that they release these notices every year between January and March with the list of the defaulters. “We have issued 15 days of time failing which we will send writ of demand to pay. We will also discontinue their electricity supply till they clear their dues,” he said.

“We don’t know in how much time the amount will be received from them. We have issued the notice and it’s up to the consumers but the department will continue with its procedures to recover the dues.”

Regarding the outstanding amount of the ‘security’ camps, he said the government will clear their bills.