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Under Pretext of Agitation, Farmers Refuse to Pay Power Bills in Punjab

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

Officials allege they were being attacked when sent out to several places for taking action on defaulters.

The financially-hit Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) is grappling with a new challenge. The farmers stir has impacted its power bill collection in the rural areas with farmers allegedly under the pretext of the stir refusing to pay up. Worse, the cases of power thefts have been on an upswing with the corporation teams coming under attacks.

The corporation is already reeling under the Rs 1,500-crore annual losses due to ‘power theft’ and transmission and distribution (T&D) pilferages. The refusal to pay bills by the farmers is adding to its woes.

Officials pointed out that even if their teams were sent to several places for taking action on defaulters, they were being attacked and had to return empty handed without any recovery.

Citing examples, PSPCL officials said that their teams were being attacked during their recent visit to villages in Sangrur, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Ferozepur and Mansa and a majority of them were now reluctant to carry out raids against power theft and defaulters.

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“Many farmers are not even in the agitation and are even holding private functions but when it comes to payment of bills, they refuse to pay the power bills, claiming that they are busy with the agitation in Delhi,” said a PSPCL official.

The Corporation sources said that with the State government going easy on the defaulters, the PSPCL finds itself in a tough financial situation. With municipal elections about to take place, the collection is getting even tougher, said sources.

“In election times nobody wants to face the wrath of the farmers in these areas. So even the government is not trying to put pressure on them to pay,” said an officer.

PSPCL Chairman-cum-Managing Director A Venu Prasad said, “Yes, we are facing problems and the ongoing farmer agitation has only added to the existing problems as dues remain unpaid.”

Prasad said that the field officials were going to the houses of the defaulters and they would be recovering the pending dues. He said that though it would be a time taking process, they were sure that the field officials would be able to convince the defaulters and ensure that they pay up.

first published:February 11, 2021, 20:14 IST