MAYOR UMA Shashi Sharma will travel to the State capital shortly in a bid to dissuade the government from siphoning off octroi compensation 0payments to the MPSEB to cover unpaid Narmada project bills.
The government recently issued an ultimatum to the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) to clear outstanding power dues amounting to Rs 113 crore. Failure to do so, the civic body was warned, would result in octroi compensation amounts being diverted directly to the power utility.
The governmental diktat came after (as reported by the HT on August 9) the Board threatened to withhold power for the ADB-assisted Narmada-III project unless previous bills were cleared by the IMC.
It may be noted that Rs 2 crore of the total octroi compensation of Rs 5.70 crore awarded by the government never reaches the Corporation’s kitty, but is directly credited to the MPSEB to repay a Rs 500 crore loan arranged by the Digvijay Singh Government to bankroll phase II of the Narmada project.
Unnerved by the possibility of being denied octroi compensation altogether, the IMC has decided to petition Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan against the move.
“We took up the matter with district in-charge Minister Himmat Kothari today and he has promised to arrange an appointment with the Chief Minister within 2-3 days,” said the Mayor.
“The Corporation’s fiscal situation simply doesn’t allow for withholding of funds. Stopping octroi compensation payments will place an unacceptably high burden on financial resources and make it very difficult for the IMC to carry out its brief,” responded the Mayor when queried about what line of argument the Corporation would take to prevent the stoppage of cash flow.
The Corporation runs up power bills amounting to approx Rs 4.80 crore in supplying Narmada water. However, as the Corporation earns no revenue from nearly 65 per cent of the 180 million litres daily (MLD) water supplied under phase two of the Narmada it has kept lagging behind in power payments.
When the outstanding bills topped Rs 100 crore the MPSEB, which is as starved for cash as the IMC, decided to put its foot down and made debts clearance a prerequisite for providing power for Narmada-III.