Stringent orders in Uttar Pradesh: No government ration if one fails to pay electricity bills

Lucknow: Stringent orders of District Magistrate (DM) in several districts of Uttar Pradesh have virtually robbed local residents of their basic civil rights.

An unprecedented order of DM, Jaunpur on Wednesday says that no application relating to any welfare scheme of government including distribution of subsidised ration, would be entertained, if the resident has not paid his/her electricity bill.

The letter (ef 2162 dated 18/09/19) of the DM, Arvind Mallapa Bangari instructs all key officials of the district administration that from October 1 next, no resident would be entertained by the state government if he fails to produce his latest 'remit paid slip' of electricity bill.

The order says that due to heavy revenue losses to UP Power Corporation, the power crisis in state has taken a turn for worse. One of the major reason for such loss, is non payment of electricity dues by a significant number of consumers.

"Subsequently it has been decided by the government that while granting benefits in welfare schemes or processing documents such as birth certificate or driving licence, it would be mandatory for the applicant to produce the 'remit paid slip' of electricity bill," the letter of the DM reveals.

The DM's order, has now become a talking point in eastern UP wherein several other districts including Gorakhpur administration have passed such orders to expedite recovery of electricity dues.

The order which restricts a citizen from availing welfare schemes including PM housing scheme could snowball into a major political issue as it deprives residents of their basic rights.

However, Gaurav Verma, Chief Development Officer (CDO) of Jaunpur told IANS over phone that aim of the new order is to improve the financial condition of UP Power Corporation which has incurred heavy losses in recent years.

Other districts like Gorakhpur have implemented such orders. People are now paying their electricity bills and recovery of dues have improved, " says Verma who seems hopeful that people will take this new project earnestly.

Sources said that on Monday last, Chief Secretary of UP while holding a statewide video conferencing with DMs, has suggested that innovative measures should be taken to recover electricity dues.

The top officials and engineers of Power Corporation have been reiterating for the past few months that if government fails to take stringent steps to recover dues from the public, the department would incur very heavy losses.

Sources said that at present around 30 per cent loss in recovery has created a financial crisis in the Power Corporation. Meanwhile spokesperson of the Samajwadi Party I.P.

Singh told IANS that recovery of dues should be made but the government cannot deprive the people of their basic welfare rights.

"What about those who neither have a home nor an electricity connection. Besides, if the government would first seek a remit slip even for issuing a birth certificate or granting a bowl of ration, then it would pose a big question on the relevance of a socialist state," said Singh.

Reacting on SP's statement, a senior official of the UP government said that the opposition leaders are making a mountain out of a molehill. The official explained that the government intends to improve power supply in the state and has therefore introduced this new scheme to recover pending electricity dues.