Tribune News Service
Bathinda, December 13
The pending electricity bill of waterworks operating in rural areas of the Malwa region have been running into crores of rupees for the past many years. Data accessed by The Tribune revealed that an outstanding electricity bill to the tune of Rs 31.80 crore of the Water Supply and Sanitation Department in Bathinda and Mansa districts was pending for the past over two years.
Senior officials of the Powercom said despite serving notices for payment of pending bills on numerous occasions, the Water Supply and Sanitation Department had failed to clear outstanding bills running into crores of rupees now.
A total of Rs 28,54,74,949 pending electricity bill of the Bathinda unit and Rs 3,26,09,683 of Mansa unit has not been cleared by the department. Powercom officials said payments of a miniscule part of the total outstanding electricity bills were made some time back but a large amount still remained unpaid.
A senior functionary in the Powercom said the department or panchayats in villages could not solely be held accountable for non-clearance of outstanding electricity bills. The lackadaisical approach of the Powercom and political patronage were to be equally blamed.
He said, “It is for the senior officials in the department to get these electricity bills cleared provided they are willing to do so. If payments were not made in time, the Powercom could have disconnected the electricity meters. But by and large, all this is done with political pressure.”
Talking to The Tribune, Jaspreet Kaur Talwar, Principal Secretary, Water Supply and Sanitation Department, said, “The department at its end has made payments of electricity bills but if there are any pending bills, we will clear them on a priority basis.”
SK Sharma, Superintending Engineer, Water Supply and Sanitation Department, Bathinda and Mansa, said, “The payment of outstanding electricity bills has been made partly by the department. We will make sure that rest of the pending amount is cleared soon.”
Jeevan Kansal, Chief Engineer, Powercom, Bathinda and Mansa, said, “Our constant efforts to get the payments cleared from the department have barely garnered any result as the pending bills continue to mount over the years. We have served notices for making payments to the respective departments on numerous occasions but to no avail.” Deputy Commissioner B Srinivasan did not respond to repeated calls.
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