BETWEEN March 2002 and August 2006 it shelled out a mammoth Rs 550.65 crore towards power costs for the Narmada project. Amazingly, the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) still hasn’t managed to clear its electricity dues.
Reason: Payments made to the power utility are adjusted against surcharge on unpaid bills leaving the original dues undiminished. Consider this - the Corporation currently owes Rs 127 crore in power bills ran up by Narmada-II.
Of this, Rs 51,23,67,535, or a tad over 40 per cent, is surcharge with the remaining amount accounting for the actual bill. Groaning under the burden imposed by the punitive billing the Corporation has petitioned the MP Electricity Regulatory Commission (MPERC) in a last ditch bid to get the surcharge waived.
The plea is scheduled to come up for a motion hearing on September 19. In its petition the civic body is learnt to have pointed out that the high surcharge levied by the power utility made it nearly impossible to clear the dues.
The Corporation is also said to have demanded concessional power tariffs for water supply. According to sources, the vicious loan repayment cycle began when the Digvijay Singh regime procured a Rs 500 crore loan to bankroll power costs of phase two of the Narmada project.
Interestingly, the government obtained the loan without even informing the Corporation let alone seeking its assent. When civic body mandarins protested, the Congress tried to sweeten the deal by promising a waiver of the Rs 200 crore surcharge.
“The IMC only agreed to the loan on this condition. However, the government later reneged on its promise and surcharge continued to be added to power bills,” admitted a former Congress corporator.
To make matters worse, the government started deducting a portion of the octroi compensation and crediting it directly to the MP State Electricity Board (MPSEB) after the Corporation fell behind in payments.
When the IMC protested, the matter was referred to a four-member committee comprising the Principal Secretary (Finance), Principal Secretary (Energy) and Principal Secretary (UADD) in 2004.
However, instead of taking a decision on the matter the committee referred the matter to the MPERC. It as this that led the Corporation to file a plea before the Commission on August 23.
Mayor-in-Council member in-charge of Waterworks Munnalal Yadav: Apart from petitioning for a surcharge waiver we are also trying to persuade the MPERC for concessional power tariff for water supply. Efforts are being made to involve elected representatives in Dewas, Rau and Mandleshwar as all these places will also benefit under Narmada-III. Once we have their consent a joint delegation will meet the Chief Minister in this regard.