Bihar: Special camps every month to address power bill complaints of consumers - Hindustan Times
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Bihar: Special camps every month to address power bill complaints of consumers

By, Patna
Mar 17, 2023 10:33 PM IST

The announcement is significant as chief minister Nitish Kumar had also received several complaints related to electricity bills at his weekly interaction with people at his residence as well as during his Samadhan Yatra earlier this year.

The Bihar government will organise camps at the block level across the state every second Saturday of the month to resolve the complaints related to electricity bills, said state’s energy minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav in the legislative assembly, while giving the government reply on the budgetary demand of the department.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar during his 'Samadhan Yatra' in Aurangabad on February 13. (HT Photo)
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar during his 'Samadhan Yatra' in Aurangabad on February 13. (HT Photo)

Opposition BJP again staged walkout after the Speaker Awadh Bihari Choudhary asked Leader of Opposition Vijay Kumar Sinha not to interrupt during the government reply and moved ahead with the proceedings.

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The announcement is significant as chief minister Nitish Kumar had also received several complaints related to electricity bills at his weekly interaction with people at his residence as well as during his Samadhan Yatra earlier this year and had directed the officials to organise special camps to address them and also create awareness about the smart pre-paid meters that have been and are being installed widely in the state.

The minister said the power tariff in Bihar was lower than many states despite the fact that it was purchasing it at the highest rate, thanks to the subsidy from the state government. “For agriculture, Bihar is charging just 70 paisa/unit, which helps in bringing down the production cost for farmers. We don’t believe in giving free electricity and the states doing so are witnessing huge financial burden. Bihar has made provision of 7801 crore for subsidy to electricity consumers in the current fiscal,” the minister said.

Yadav said Bihar was also the top performer in installing pre-paid meters and after the success in urban areas, it will be replicated in rural areas also. “This is aimed at reducing the losses. The aggregate technical and commercial loss (AT&C) loss is also coming down consistently, down from 45.41% in 2012 to 32.16% in 2021-22 and 29.47% in 2021-22,” he said.

The minister said that when the country could have “one nation-one tax” policy, why can’t it have “one nation-one energy tariff”, which would help poor states like Bihar by reducing cost on purchasing electricity. “It is precisely due to this that Bihar wanted special status, as it would have helped the state in a big way,” he said.

BJP legislator Sanjay Sarawgi, who was the first to move the cut motion, said that the power situation in Bihar had improved mostly due to Centre’s financial assistance, but the unfortunate part was that the state still did not have any significant production unit of its own. “What is worrying be is that all the power companies are running in huge losses due to around 30% AT&C despite state’s commitment to bring it to 15% by 2019-20. As a result, the burden is shifted on the poor masses who have to pay at higher rates,” he said.

Sarawgi said 45% of power consumers in Bihar were paying average bills and not according to meters. “The government buildings in Patna alone have arrears of 1,718 crore. The figure for the entire state must be much higher. Can the government say how many of such buildings had their power supply snapped, as it happens in the case of poor people,” he said.

The budget of the department of prohibition, excise and registration, law department and planning and development department was passed by voice vote through “guillotine”.

Prohibition, excise and registration minister Sunil Kumar said that prohibition in Bihar was a success, as reflected through various surveys, and the government was focusing on catching the suppliers and manufacturers of spurious liquor.

The BJP, however, interjected, saying liquor was flowing easy and innocent family members of those killed due to spurious liquor should be given compensation.

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