Several government departments have defaulted in clearing their power bills of more than ₹731 crore to TANGEDCO. At the end of March 31, TWAD Board has ₹333.56 crore pending towards TANGEDCO, followed by panchayats which need to clear ₹265.13 crore power bills.
Despite several reminders, the departments have failed to clear the bills, and TANGEDCO has taken a decision not to give any new power connections to these departments.
Every year, several departments in the state have defaulted in accumulating payment arrears. The state government, through the district collectors has cracked the whip, asking the departments to pay their bills without further delay. It also decided to appoint a special officer to coordinate and speed up the process.
“Frequently, senior department officials hold meetings to find a solution to clear the bills. The special officer will coordinate with the departments in every district and ensure they paid their power bills on time,” said a senior TANGEDCO official.
The special officer, in the rank of Additional Director of the Rural department, has been given a plan chart for visiting districts. During his tour, the collectors would be involved in convening meetings of officials of the defaulting departments concerned. The special officer would have to solve the issues between the departments and TANGEDCO.
The TWAD board uses the maximum amount of power to pump water across the state. “Every year, the board defaults in payment of bills and once the government releases funds, the board pays a part of the bill and carries forward the balance to the next financial year,” said the official.
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After the TWAD board are the local bodies, mostly panchayats and municipalities, who have defaulted in clearing the power bills. “With local bodies we use the barter trade. In many places, TANGEDCO has not paid the corporation or municipal tax and this will be adjusted in the pending power bills,” said the official.
To prevent the government departments from defaulting in payment of power bills, the Centre has asked the states to provide prepaid smart meters to these departments, as the departments will not be able to default with these meters as power supply will be stopped once the total money is spent.
Prepaid smart metering in all government departments would not only go a long way in ensuring the commitment of the government, in bringing Discoms back on the path of financial sustainability and promotion of energy efficiency, but would also serve as a model for emulation by states for defining similar such mechanisms that support prepayment of the electricity dues by their own departments.
The Government of India is committed towards providing uninterrupted, reliable and quality power supply to all the consumers, for which an operationally efficient and financially sustainable power sector is a must.