A fine of Rs 13 lakh assessed for unauthorised use of electricity a couple of months ago has seen a nearly 13-fold hike to reach Rs 1.7 crore. That apparently happened because the owner of the said industrial unit, an Akali leader, is not in a position to pull the strings anymore.
Sokhi steels, a firm owned by Akali Leader and Ludhiana district planning board chairman Jagbir Singh Sokhi, had been indulging in unauthorised use of electricity (UUE) since March 2014, but the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) didn’t act for obvious reasons. However, when the poll code of conduct was in force, a team visited the firm’s premises and assessed the fine for the illegality at Rs 13 lakh. Still, no action was taken to make the firm deposit the fine. After the change in guard, the fine has been revised to Rs 1.7 crore.
As per the supply code of the power regulatory commission, the unit was using the electricity for purpose other than it had approval for. The unit was running an induction furnace since March 2014, but was paying bills under the general industry category, for which the tariff rate is lower. The illegality was reported way back in 2014, but the matter was kept under the wraps as Sokhi was a powerful Akali leader.
A team of PSPCL officials inspected the premises of the steel unit ahead of the polls and found that induction furnace there was operational since March 14, 2014, and it was still being billed under the general category. Another inspection of the unit took place during the poll code and the induction furnace was videographed in operation, leaving little chance for doubt.
Though rules say the final notice to realise the fine has to be issued within a week, chief engineer (central zone) NK Sharma did not do that for reasons known to him and instead issued a provisional notice for Rs 13.7-lakh fine, which actually should have been Rs 1.5 crore. Now, when the Akali government is gone, the fine has been revised to Rs 1.7 crore.
“The question is how such a big industry ran an Induction furnace for years without the knowledge of power officials?” said a PSPCL engineer on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, Atam Nagar MLA and Lok Insaf Party president Simarjit Singh Bains said that he will raise the issue in the assembly. He said his written complaint forced the PSPCL to enhance the fine. PSPCL chairman-cum-managing director KD Chaudhri could not be contacted for a comment.