Power to streetlights snapped in four villages in Chandigarh

UT electricity dept takes action after MC fails to clear bills worth 4.3 lakh for power supply to streetlights in these villages
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Published on Sep 29, 2020 11:05 PM IST
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By, Chandigarh

The Chandigarh electricity department has snapped power supply to streetlights in four villages under the municipal corporation’s jurisdiction.

The action came on Monday night after the civic body failed to clear unpaid electricity bills worth 4.3 lakh. The affected villages are Dhanas, Sarangpur, Khuda Lahora, Khuda Jassu, all located on the northern periphery of the city. The department is contemplating similar action in other villages if the MC continues to default of pending bills.

“There is total darkness on the streets as night has descended,” said Kuljeet Singh Sandhu, former sarpanch of Dhanas, on Tuesday. “As there is no beat box here, I have called up police and requested them to intensify night patrolling in the village, as we fear an increase in thefts and other street crimes.”

All electricity connections are in the name of the village sarpanch/block development and panchayat officer. Sarangpur village owes 1.47 lakh, followed by Khuda Lahora (1.04 lakh), Khuda Jassu (94,000), and Dhanas (83,481).

Villagers complained that they were being victimised even though they had no role in paying the bills. “The villages came under the MC’s jurisdiction in January 2019, and the panchayat authority ended on December 31, 2018. The MC took over all revenue generation avenues (such as commercial properties and community centres) in the villages. It is now its responsibility to pay for public utilities,” said Sadhu Singh, former sarpanch, Sarangpur.

What officials say

Stating that they were left with no option, CD Sangwan, superintending engineer, UT electricity department, said: “We had been postponing the action as we didn’t want locals to suffer. But with the MC failing to respond to repeated notices for unpaid bills, we decided to snap power to streetlights in some areas only. Other divisions haven’t done it so far.”

MC officials contended that most of the unpaid bills were from the time it had no jurisdiction over villages. Assuring that the civic body is working on restoring the supply, MC chief engineer Shailender Singh said: “We are getting the details and we will resolve the issue as early as possible.”

Meanwhile, Devinder Singh Babla of the Congress, who is the leader of opposition in MC House, blamed the lack of coordination between the civic body and UT administration for the problem. “It is shameful that because of lapses on behalf of MC officials, the UT electricity department is making village residents suffer.” AAP chief spokesperson Nitin Goyal, in a letter to the MC commissioner has demanded: “Pay compensation to each household of the affected villages, which should be recovered from officials found responsible in the departmental inquiry.”

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