At a time when private distributors are pulling all stops to check power theft in your neighbourhood, a government agency guzzled up electricity worth more than half a crore rupees in five years, and nobody knows how.
The Central Public Works Department (CPWD), it has come to light, has not been paying the electricity bills for 172 streetlights it maintains around the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main venue of the Commonwealth Games, since July 2002.
According to sources at the Delhi power department, which is intervening in the matter, the distcom, BSES Rajdhani (BRPL), is now threatening to disconnect supply and throw the streets around the area — CGO complex and thereabouts, a bureaucratic hub of Delhi — in pitch darkness. The distcom has slapped CPWD with a fat electricity bill worth Rs 56.98 lakh for these streetlights, pending since July 2002.
“The distcom found that electricity for these streetlights were not being metered for reasons unknown to them. They say that they did not know that these lights were running unmetered all this while,” said a power department official. “It is an important area because it's the main venue for Commonwealth Games. But the CPWD has not budged,” he added.
In the letter to the department, BRPL has cited that it had been seeking a resolution since August 2007, the time when it came to know the existence of these un-metered streetlights. “We have made every effort to resolve the issue with CPWD but to no avail,” said the letter written to the power department by BRPL.
Apart from the streets surrounding the stadium, it also includes the stretch that links the stadium with the CGO Complex, the letter stated.
The CPWD, however, is in no mood to pay up. It stated that previously the government-run power supplier, Delhi Vidyut Board, never charged them a penny for these lights. “We are answerable to the exchequer for every penny that we spend. I cannot pay half a crore rupees just because a company suddenly decided to generate a bill out of thin air,” said HS Dogra, CPWD chief.
“There must have been some official arrangement with the DVB for not metering these streetlights in public interest. I have asked my officials to dig out papers for old files that clarifies this,” he said.
Does that mean that during the Commonwealth Games, the areas around its main venue will be under a blackout? “That is not desirable. But we have to question the authenticity of such a fat bill,” he said.