Ludhiana, August 7
Where common consumers, or for that matter industrial units and business establishments are concerned, default in payment of electricity bills is taken very seriously and as a normal practice, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) disconnects power supply to defaulting consumers. However, there seems to be a different yardstick when it comes to defaulting government departments which face no such action even as the arrears till end of last financial year (March 31, 2020) have crossed the Rs 100-crore mark (at Rs 101.13 cr).
According to PSPCL Chief Engineer (Central Zone) Varinder Pal Singh Saini, on the top of the defaulters from among the government departments in Central Zone, comprising the districts of Ludhiana and Fatehgarh Sahib, is the Department of Water and Sanitation with arrears of a staggering Rs 57.34 crore. The others are Department of Rural Development and Panchayat (Rs 9.79 cr), Department of Health and Family Welfare (Rs 8.48 cr) and the Department of Home Affairs and Jails (Rs 5.80 cr).
Among other ‘crorepati’ defaulting government departments are the Department of Local Government (Rs 3.69 cr), the Department of Revenue, Rehabilitation and Disaster Management (Rs 2.99 cr), Public Works Department (Rs 2.5 cr), Department of Legal and Legislative Affairs (Rs 2.32 cr), Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (1.70 cr), Department of General Administration (Rs 1.60 cr) and the Department of Governance Reforms (Rs 1.13 cr).
Information provided by the PSPCL indicated that among the four distribution circles in Central Zone, the highest arrears against government departments were in Khanna (Rs 42.01 cr) followed by Suburban Circle (Rs 37.93 cr), Ludhiana West (Rs 11.72 cr) and Ludhiana East (Rs 9.46 cr).
Of a total of 53 government departments in the list of PSPCL consumers, 13 had no arrerars against their name at the end of last financial year while two others, the Department of Agriculture (Rs 63.51 lakh) and the Department of School Education (Rs 66.86 lakh), had unpaid bills of more than Rs 50 lakh during the year. Among the Central Government departments Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, a public sector undertaking, had arrears of Rs 53.96 lakh.
Saini said usually our distribution offices (divisional and subdivisional) put a lot of pressure on defaulting government departments to clear the arrears towards the end of the financial year as most of the government departments receive funds during that period, yet this year, due to the Covid-induced lockdown from third week of March and the whole month of April that followed, recovery was affected.
“Moreover, there are directions from the government that power supply of departments providing essential services should not be disconnected which comes in the way of dealing sternly with defaulting government departments,” he added.
Other ‘crorepati’ defaulters
The other defaulters are Department of Rural Development and Panchayat (Rs9.79 cr), Department of Health and Family Welfare (Rs 8.48 cr) and the Department of Home Affairs and Jails (Rs5.80 cr), the Department of Local Government (Rs3.69 cr), the Department of Revenue, Rehabilitation and Disaster Management (Rs2.99 cr), Public Works Department (Rs2.5 cr), Department of Legal and Legislative Affairs (Rs2.32 cr), Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (Rs1.70 cr), Department of General Administration (Rs1.60 cr) and the Department of Governance Reforms (Rs1.13 cr).
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