Uttar Pradesh government departments owe more than Rs 13,000 crore in electricity bills to the state power utilities, which also makes the state top ranked among peers in this regard.
While UP has emerged as the chart topper with its various government departments, state agencies and urban local bodies (ULB) collectively owing Rs 13,361 crore in power arrears till September 2018-19, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh stood distant 2nd and 3rd with corresponding figure of Rs 6,737 crore and Rs 4,913 crore respectively.
Recently, the 15th Finance Commission had also red-flagged the burgeoning losses of UP power utilities, which currently stand at Rs 18,000 crore even after the implementation of Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY). The Yojana was aimed at financial restructuring of Indian power distribution companies (discoms) that were struggling under collective losses of Rs 3.6 trillion.
In Uttar Pradesh, UDAY was projected to accrue savings of Rs 33,000 crore for the state discoms and help them raise fresh capital for future investments. However, the discoms have continued to grapple with challenges due to high AT&C (aggregate technical and commercial) losses, low bill realisation and rampant power theft.
Meanwhile, in the pecking order of the top 10 power defaulter states, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Bihar and Haryana trail top ranked UP, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, with the collective dues amounting to Rs 37,211 crore.
Interestingly, UP government departments with Rs 13,361 crore outstanding, comprise almost 36 per cent of the total power dues pertaining to the top 10 states.
However, the Yogi Adityanath government is now ready to bite the bullet and pare the losses of state power companies to keep them afloat, especially in the backdrop of the ambitious target to provide 24 hour uninterrupted electricity supply to all households going forward.
Sources told Business Standard the chief minister was already seized of the matter and had directed officials to take immediate corrective measures to clear the dues of government departments. The clean up exercise could even take the shape of the state deciding to first settle the power dues of the respective departments, before releasing their annual budget.
Recently, the state had announced to install pre-paid smart meters at the premises of government departments to ensure timely payment of dues and spur economic use of energy.
Yesterday, UP Power Consumers Council president Awadhesh Kumar Verma had submitted a memorandum to state energy minister Shrikant Sharma demanding urgent corrective measures, so that the benefit also percolates to the common power consumers.
“The power department disconnects power connection of ordinary consumers in case their unpaid bill amounts to Rs 10,000. However, the government departments, who are the biggest defaulters continue to flout the norms, which ultimately results in higher power tariffs,” he observed. Meanwhile, Sharma assured Verma the state was working on an action plan.