When demonetisation was announced on November 8 last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, some of the beneficiaries turned out to be the Corporations and municipalities in the State with property owners rushing to repay huge amounts of property tax arrears with the demonetised currency.
However, one department which has failed to reap benefits from the demonetisation drive is the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO). It has been financially weighed down by more than ₹700 crore of arrears in electricity bills from different government departments which seem to be chronic defaulters in the State.
In November 2015, the arrears by various government departments was ₹93.79 crore which has 'gradually' grown over the years and now stands at over ₹700 crore.
Several government departments, including the Tamilnadu Water and Drainage Board (TWAD), corporations, municipalities and village panchayats, have been defaulting on electricity bills regularly that TANGEDCO officials are finding it difficult to recover the arrears.
A senior official of TANGEDCO said demonetisation has not benefited the electricity department in any way .
While TANGEDCO has been able to control defaulters of low-tension power bill and commercial power bill by efficiently cutting off supply in case of default, the same stringent formula could not be applied to various government departments because they are categorised as providing "essential services" to the public.
'All steps taken'
The senior official said, "We have used all measures to recover the dues — from requesting the department heads to even threatening to cut off power supply. But, the arrears have only increased over the years."
The senior official said various departments owe TANGEDCO a total of ₹715.54 crore.
Giving data about the default amount, he said TWAD Board tops the arrears list with ₹330.59 crore followed by village panchayats at ₹278.14 crore, corporations ₹51.78 crore, municipalities ₹44.28 crore and town panchayats ₹10.75 crore.
The official also gave the break-up of the TWAD Board top defaulters in which Mettur has a huge arrears of ₹60.35 crore followed by Tirunelveli at ₹34.57 crore, Coimbatore North ₹20.95 crore, Tiruchi (Metro) ₹20.81 crore and Karur ₹18.91 crore.
Similarly, the list of corporation defaulters shows Salem Corporation owing ₹19.5 crore, Thanjavur ₹16.14 crore, Tirupur ₹7.31 crore and Chennai ₹4.88 crore.
The official of the Electricity Department said letters written to the Secretaries of these departments by the Chairman and Managing Director M. Saikumar in September 2015 reminding them about the electricity bill arrears in 2015 did not yield any result.
Source- The Hindu