In a violation of norms, the electricity department has failed to pay interest on security deposit to its consumers for two years now, saving itself an outgo of around Rs. 10 crore. For 2013-2014, the interest was Rs. 5.26 crore and Rs. 5.35 crore for 2014-15. Depending on the type of connection, consumers have to deposit between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 10,000 as security, while applying for the meter.
The interest payment of an individual consumer is credited once a year in the bill.
Under clause 47(4) of the Electricity Act, 2003, and as specified in regulation 25 of the JERC Tariff Regulations 2009, the distribution licencees have to pay interest on security deposit collected from the consumers, equivalent to the bank rate or more as may be specified by the commission.
The commission in its tariff order issued on April 11, had directed the department to pay the interest on consumer security deposit for 2014-15 with effect from April 1, 2014.
Criticising the electricity department, Federation of Sector Welfare Associations Chandigarh (FOSWAC) chairman Baljinder Singh Bittu said the department wasted no time in levying additional charges, but took its own time when it came to paying interest on security deposits.
When contacted, UT superintending engineer MP Singh said the delay in implementation of the order for this fiscal had been due to the fire at the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT) building in Sector 17.
“We will start the process of paying interest once the system is streamlined,” said Singh.
In its last orders issued on July 9, the department was pulled up for not giving any detailed justification for the sudden increase in consumer security deposit 2013-14 to Rs. 61.92 crore and Rs. 62.97 crore in 2014-15. In 2012-13, the department actually held Rs. 29.21 crore.