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Sunday, Nov 17, 2019

OTS for power defaulters fails to light up UPPCL

The Uttar Pradesh government’s much publicised one-time settlement (OTS) scheme offering defaulters the facility to get the interest on their bills waived by clearing all pending power dues may end up as a case of much ado about nothing.

lucknow Updated: Feb 04, 2019 13:30 IST
Brajendra K Parashar
Brajendra K Parashar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Only 31% target achieved even as the extended scheme is set to close on Feb 15.
Only 31% target achieved even as the extended scheme is set to close on Feb 15.(Represenatative image )
         

The Uttar Pradesh government’s much publicised one-time settlement (OTS) scheme offering defaulters the facility to get the interest on their bills waived by clearing all pending power dues may end up as a case of much ado about nothing.

The corporation has been able to meet only 31% of the OTS target so far even as the scheme that came into effect from January 1, 2019, and was extended for 15 days, will come to a close on February 15.

The scheme, which is open for small domestic and commercial consumers with up to 2 KW load and all private tube wells owned by farmers, requires beneficiaries to pay 30% of their pending dues in advance to get registered for the offer.

The scheme seeks to waive off 100% surcharge (interest on late payment of the bill) provided the dues pending till December 31, 2018, are cleared at one go.

During a video conference on Saturday, principal secretary (energy) and UPPCL chairman Alok Kumar found that only 13,29,253 (31.83%) of the 41,76,571 targeted defaulters have registered themselves for the scheme till date.

The corporation has realised total dues of Rs 1,144 crore.

The Varanasi discom was found to be the poorest performer with the target achievement of 18.95% while the Lucknow discom also fared badly at 29.70%.

Agra and KESCo achieved 35.54% and 50.38% of their targets, respectively, while the Meerut discom was better off at 58.28%.

Among the zones, Jhansi, Gorakhpur, Azamgarh and Mirzapur were found to be at the bottom with target achievement being between merely 13% and 17 %.

The highest number of electricity bills (20,342) were found pending for revision in Gorakhpur zone.

Aligarh-1, Kasganj, Pilibhit, Unnao, Varanasi, Khalilabad, Meerut-II and Muzaffarnagar were found to be the best performing circles with target achievement between 36% and 94%.

According to people familiar with the development, Kumar expressed dissatisfaction over the progress and asked the officials to prepare a special action plan for divisions with high dues.

“The chairman has directed the officials to send staff to the houses of defaulters and ask them to pay dues. They have been asked to disconnect the power supply of defaulters if they do not register for OTS despite reminders,” an officer, who did not wish to be named, said.

UPPCL had announced OTS scheme ignoring the regulator’s advice to improve its revenue collection amid widening deficit that is expected to have crossed Rs 10,000 crore by now.

Last year, UP Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) had observed that introducing OTS every year was a bad practice which benefited dishonest consumers who kept on deferring payment of bills in anticipation of interest waiver.

Giving its approval to the OTS proposal in 2017-18, UPERC made it clear it would not entertain any such proposal in future and if the UPPCL wanted to go for any OTS, it could do that but the commission would not take the OTS amount into consideration while revising tariff.