After getting ‘free water’ during Akali regime, panchayats in Moga refuse to pay bills
After a change of government, the free service is no more in place and the panchayats have been asked to clear the old bills as well.punjab Updated: May 22, 2017 09:44 IST
Being used to getting free water during the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) regime, the Bahona village panchayat sarpanch has shorn his beard in protest of water woes at his village. After a change of government, the free service is no more in place and the panchayats have been asked to clear the old bills as well. Thus, they are finding it difficult to pay the power bill of tubewells meant for supply of potable water at villages.
Similar situation prevails in hundreds of villages across the state, which is facing water scarcity after the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), with the coming of a new government, has started disconnecting the power connections of waterworks at villages where the panchayats have failed to pay the power bills.
Sarpanch Bahona village, Harbhajan Singh, held a protest by tying a black cloth around his mouth and sitting outside the mini-secretariat that houses the DC office, vowing not to drink water for the entire day and demanding free power to the village waterworks of the entire state. He submitted a memorandum with the deputy commissioner (DC) Moga Dilraj Singh regarding this demand.
The DC then informed him that he can’t assure about Punjab but he will get the water supply in their village restored by Thursday evening, but it was not restored. Following this, the sarpanch had shorn his beard and hung it at the DC office as sign of protest. He said that the government made them use to ‘free water supply’ and suddenly they have sent power bill of amounting over Rs 16 lakh. “If the government can give free power to farmers’ tubewells, meant for agriculture; why can’t they provide free water supply to poor families for drinking and irrigation,” he said. On being asked if the panchayat will pay the bill, Harbhajan denied and said that his protest to for free water to be provided to village residents and it will continue.
The PSPCL officials said that there is no policy to provide free power to village waterworks and they have to recover the power bills whether it comes from the villages or the government. “Water and sanitation committees headed by sarpanches are formed in villages for collection of water supply charges so that they can pay the power bills, but most of the villages have not been collecting the amount which resulted in the disconnection of their power connections,” the officials said.
Kuldeep Singh Dhanju, executive engineer (XEN) sub-urban PSPCL Moga, said that after assurance by villagers that they will pay the power bill, they have restored the power supply at Bahona village.