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Tie discom officials to tree if they fine farmers: Rajasthan BJP MLA

Rajasthan discoms are the biggest loss-making power distribution companies in the country. Power thefts are common in the state, where 40% of the electricity is consumed by the farm sector.

india Updated: Mar 05, 2018 11:34 IST
Manoj Ahuja
Manoj Ahuja
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Electricity theft,Rajasthan MLA,Bhawani Singh Rajawat
Rajasthan MLA Bhawani Singh Rajawat.

A Rajasthan MLA from the ruling BJP has asked party workers to tie to a tree officials who slap penalty on farmers for power theft or overload, accusing them of hounding the poor and favouring the rich.

Ladpura MLA Bhawani Singh Rajawat defended the remarks on Monday, a day after he made the controversial statement which also goes against the government’s efforts to improve the financial health of the state power board.

“I stand by my statement. The discom officials are very lenient on industrialists but when they catch a farmer using four bulbs, they book him for overload and impose arbitrary penalties of up to Rs 1 lakh,” he told Hindustan Times over the phone.

Rajasthan discoms are the biggest loss-making power distribution companies in the country. Power thefts are common in the state, where 40% of the electricity is consumed by the farm sector.

“I have asked the party workers to tie the personnel who visit any village to issue VCRs to a tree. This is the only way to dissuade them in future,” Rajawat said of the vigilance checking report that is issued when a consumer is caught stealing power or committing a similar offence.

The defaulter is asked to pay a penalty, and in some cases, an FIR is also registered. These are among the many steps that Rajasthan has taken to curb thefts and meet ever-growing demand for power.

In November 2015, when the Centre launched Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (Uday) scheme to revive debt-laden state electricity boards, Rajasthan was the biggest defaulter with a debt of more than Rs 80,000 crore.

When asked if he had identified villages where such penalties were imposed, Rajawat said it happened across Rajasthan and the issue had been raised in the assembly as well.

“The statement is unfortunate. We are working to reduce AT&C (aggregate technical and commercial) losses and turn profitable in the next financial year and curbing power theft in rural areas is high on our priority,” a Jaipur discom official, who did not wish to be named, said.

After implementation of Uday, up to 75% of the debt was to be taken over by states that could issue long-term bonds to banks with state guarantee. While this took care of most of the debt, future funding was linked to performance.

Rajasthan has issued bonds worth Rs 70,525 crore, the highest among all states since the Uday scheme was implemented. However, it is lagging in meeting operational targets as mandated under the scheme.

The Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd, also known as Jaipur discom, pared its losses to Rs 428 crore in the current financial year up to December 2017 as against Rs 1,714 crore during the corresponding period last fiscal.

Improved metering, strengthening of distribution network and billing had led to drop in the losses.

First Published: Mar 05, 2018 11:29 IST