Various Assam government departments have not paid electricity bills running into Rs 108 crore even as the average tariff for common people is proposed to be hiked by 17% to Rs 7.45 per unit in 2014-15.
According to an official document, different government departments have a total arrear of Rs 108 crore for electricity consumption till March 31, 2014. Of this, the highest amount is due from the Industry Department at Rs 24.34 crore. It is followed by Rs 19.36 crore due from the Department of Public Health Engineering, Rs 17.08 crore due from Health and Family Planning Department and Rs 13.15 crore due from the Irrigation department, the document stated.
Some other important government wings that have payments due are Director General of Police office (Rs 5.90 crore), Judiciary (Rs 2.78 crore) and PWD (Rs 1.31 crore). The number of district administrations comprising DC, SDO, BDO and GAD have unpaid bills worth Rs 7.05 crore. The document said bill amounts from government functionaries are collected as per rules framed by the Assam Electricity Regulatory Commission (AERC).
It said that during power cuts in the state, the power distribution utility normally tried to maintain uninterrupted electricity connection at residences of ministers, MLAs and IAS officers on account of "security" reasons. The non-recovery of this huge amount has put the Power Department in a quandary as the state has a peak hour electricity shortage of 225 MW against the demand of 1,400 MW, while it is 113 MW against 1,062 MW during off-peak hours.
To meet the shortage, the Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd buys power on daily basis from Indian Energy Exchange through short-term open bidding.
Power Department officials, meanwhile, said that the government was considering a proposal to hike the average electricity tariff to Rs 7.45 per unit from Rs 6.37 a unit in 2014-15. The hike is proposed due to non-recovered "revenue gap, uncontrollable electricity purchase and fuel cost", it added. The AERC will take a decision about hiking the rate after public hearing and complain to the proposal.
During the last 12 years, the Centre has given grants to the tune of Rs 3,748.13 crore to Assam for various scheme under the electricity department.
Of this, 10% have been spent on power generation by seven projects in the state.
Some of the different Central government funded schemes are -- Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana, Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana and Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme.