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Tangedco hit by power bill dues from government departments

Already reeling from heavy financial losses, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) has been facing a resource crunch due to unpaid power bills running to hundreds of crores by various government agencies.

The Tangedco, the State electricity utility, had suffered heavy losses for the audited financial year of 2017-18 to the extent of ₹7,760 crore. In this situation, various government agencies, including Tamilnadu Water Supply and Drainage (TWAD) Board, several municipalities, Local Administration Department and other departments, have kept huge amounts of electricity bills pending for several months.

The large overdues by government departments has made it difficult for the electricity utility to pay the private power generators and for undertaking other development works, officials said.

A senior official of Tangedco said that overdue of current consumption (CC) charges from TWAD Board and local bodies ran to more than ₹1,000 crore. The electricity officials have been asked to approach the State Finance Corporation to collect outstanding dues from the local bodies, he said.

Measures mooted

At a review meeting held in the headquarters recently, it was also decided not to entertain any new service connections to these government departments until the outstanding bills are paid. The official pointed out that at the meeting, a plan to install pre-paid meters for local body and government services was explored but TWAD and local bodies, being involved in public services like water supply and streetlights, the idea was dropped.

The TWAD Board officials have been quite cooperative to the requests to clear the arrears and have promised to expedite the clearance of electricity dues. Officials of the TWAD Board said the cost of infrastructure maintenance was higher than the charges collected for the service. The water charges were revised only in 2018 and this has now increased the revenue by 120%.

The charges were revised after 2002 as it was far too low and had led to accumulation of electricity dues. There is still a gap between the water supply cost and revenue earned by TWAD. For instance, drinking water supply is being provided at a cost of ₹7 per kilo litre in rural areas and ₹9 per kl in town panchayats and municipalities across the State. However, the production cost varies between ₹14 and ₹22 per kl.

TWAD is also supplying water to industries at a cost of ₹150 per kl. These measures are expected to bridge the gap between the revenue and expenditure to some extent. “We are also cutting down on operation and maintenance expenses and regularising unauthorised connections. We expect to improve revenue and remit the dues to Tangedco very soon,” the officials said.

Odisha model

In the meantime, the electricity utility has also planned to adopt the Odisha model of collecting electricity dues from the State Treasury rather dealing with each and every government agency, sources said.

“In the future, a team of finance officials have been planned to be deputed to visit Odisha to study the procedure and implement in the State. But one problem we see is the integration of the billing system with the State Treasury system,” said a Tangedco official.

Article source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/tangedco-hit-by-power-bill-dues-from-government-departments/article26837904.ece

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