J&K Mantris, Babus, Netas do Not Pay Electricity Bills
Syed Junaid Hashmi (Early Times)
Jammu: Brickbats for commoners and bouquets for us! Ministers, legislators and bureaucrats seem to be following this adage in Jammu and Kashmir when it comes to paying electricity dues.
What to talk of paying, they prefer not to even inquire about their pending bills. It is this part of democratic set-up which frames stringent rules and regulations for commoners, accuses them of power theft and illegal connections, wails over inability to control transmission and distribution losses and above all, threatens to disconnect their power connections if they do not pay their bills regularly.
It is not known how they get their salaries released without submitting their electricity bills. Reply to a cut motion, copy of which is with Early Times reveals that Ministers, legislators and bureaucrats living in posh bungalows and flats do not pay electricity dues both in Jammu as well as in Kashmir. Despite living luxurious life, they prefer to talk about illegal connections of connection rather then paying their pending electricity dues.
Besides, such is the non-seriousness on the part of the government that even with Chief Minister (CM) heading the department, pending dues have accumulated and gone over Rs. 3 crore. Besides, every time when the Assembly session is held in the state, one legislator or the other submits a question inquiring about amount which various departments, ministers, legislators and bureaucrats owe to the Power Development Department (PDD). The answer always makes a news item.
As per the figures presented by the government in reply to a cut motion, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has more than Rs. 556277 outstanding against him. Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand owes a whopping Rs. 49, 49 565 (around Rs. 50 lakh) to the Power Development Department (PDD). The two advisors of Chief Minister namely Devinder Singh Rana and Mubarak Gul together have to pay more than Rs. 7.43 lakh to the PDD.
Chief Secretary Madhav Lal, who took from S.S. Kapur has shifted to the same bungalow was earlier with Kapoor. An outstanding of Rs 9.750 lakh has been shown against the name of Madhav Lal. Former Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed has a total outstanding of Rs. 4.56 lakh against him, which has so far not been cleared.
Figures reveal that Speaker Legislative Assembly Muhammad Akbar Lone has Rs. 4.34 lakh pending arrears. Senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Beig also has to pay an electricity arrear of Rs 7.830 lakh to Power Development Department in respect of his accommodations in Jammu. Similarly Minister for Tourism, Rigzin Jora owes Rs 11.389 lakhs to the PDD for the accommodations both at Jammu and in Srinagar.
Similarly, amount of power tariff due from Sakina Ittoo, Tara Chand, Hakim Mohd Yasin, Bashir Ahmed Naaz, Khem Lata Wakhloo, Shamima Firdous, Ghulam Ahmed Mir, Thakur Puran Singh and Romesh Chander Sharma is more than Rs five lakhs each. Amount due from Minister of State (MOS) Cooperative Dr Manohar Lal is Rs 6. 58 lakh for Kashmir while he has to pay just Rs. 190 to PDD in Jammu.
Amount due from Justice NA Kakroo, MS Bashir and Tanvir Jahan is Rs 9.50 lakh, Rs 6.14 lakh and Rs 6.4 lakh, respectively. Meanwhile, even as the PDD leaves no stone unturned in recovering electricity fee from the common man, it has failed to recover whooping amount of Rs 774.60 crore from other government departments.
Public Health Engineering (PHE) department in Kashmir is biggest defaulter and owes Rs. 50.88 crore to the PDD followed by Irrigation and Flood Control department which has a total outstanding of Rs 139.70 crore. In Jammu division, Lift Irrigation department still has to clear Rs 57.56 crore while PHE has total outstanding of Rs 437.42 crore pending against it.