Srinagar: After receiving the Administrative Council’s (AC) consent, the Power Department formally issued an order declaring a waiver of the interest that had accrued on domestic electricity bills due to non-payments for J&K residents.
More than 5.50 lakh domestic consumers would benefit from the decision by having an amount of Rs 937.34 crore that had accumulated as a surcharge or interest due to late payments waived.
The government’s decision has been praised widely since for the past two years COVID caused J&K's economy to suffer leading to electricity customers not paying bills on time.
An order issued by the Power Department reads “sanction is hereby accorded to waiver off the 100 percent interest or surcharge on the outstanding electricity bills in favour of the domestic consumers accumulated up to March 31, 2022”.
The department has set some conditions for consumers to avail of this benefit which includes outstanding principal amount arrears accumulated up to March 31, 2022, after waiving off 100 percent interest or surcharge in favour of the domestic consumers be paid in a maximum of 12 monthly installments beginning from the date of issuance of this government order.
The failure to payment of any installments within the prescribed 12 months period should invite penalty and legal action under the Electricity Act 2003 in addition to the accrual of compound interest on the outstanding dues.
The current bills should be paid separately and regularly without fail.
The consumers who fail to pay the current bill simultaneously with the payment of monthly outstanding installments should forfeit the benefits of the amnesty scheme besides disconnection of power supply, the order reads.
While applauding the decision, Kashmir-based traders suggested that the power amnesty should also be extended to commercial consumers.
“It’s a commendable gesture that will provide relief to lakhs of J&K power users, but at the same time, we implore the LG’s administration to announce a similar amnesty for commercial customers, which includes businesses and industries,” President of Kashmir Traders Alliance, Aijaz Shahdhar told Greater Kashmir.
The Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory Administrative Council announced an amnesty scheme for home power users and connections, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industries Jammu (CCIJ) urged Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to do the same for the sector of traders and industrialists.
In a statement, CCI Jammu said that these industries were still fighting for existence after being negatively impacted during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement said that this appeal was made at a meeting of CCIJ presided over by Arun Gupta at the Chamber House in Jammu.