Haryana village bodies ban paying of power bills

April 9th, 2008 - 12:54 am ICT by admin  

Ambala (Haryana), April 8 (IANS) Upset with the state government’s failure to supply regular electricity, at least 25 panchayats or village bodies in Haryana’s Ambala district have issued an order to villagers not to pay power bills. The decision to ban payment of electricity bills by residents in 25 villages was taken Monday at a meeting held at Barada village, 20 km from this district headquarter town.

The Ambala district administration has taken a serious view of the diktat of the village panchayats and asked concerned officials at the local level to identify village leaders who were behind the order not to pay power bills.

“We will initiate strict action against those instigating innocent villagers. Those not paying bills will face legal action,” Deputy Commissioner Mohammed Shayin said here Tuesday.

The 25 panchayats said any villager violating the ban order would have to pay a penalty of Rs.1,100 and also sponsor meals for 100 people. They also threatened social boycott of the errant villager and his family if any power bills were paid.

“We had to resort to this action as the government was unable to supply power beyond four hours everyday. We are facing a lot of hardship,” one village leader, requesting anonymity, said.

Village elder Dharamvir defended the panchayat decision saying that when the government had failed to provide a service, where was the need to pay power bills.

Haryana government sources said in Chandigarh that the state was viewing the incident seriously as the move could spread to other parts of the state, putting the government in an embarrassing situation.

The Bhupinder Singh Hooda government had waived power arrears of Rs.16 billion ($400 million) for power bill defaulters of 10 years in May 2005. The bill waiver scheme was given as a one-time concession to make defaulters pay future bills.

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