The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), which did not think twice before delivering a rude jolt to its customers by way of latest hike in tariff, has not initiated any meaningful step for recovering arrears of about Rs.1,500 crore from government departments and major private companies till December last.
The board had sought the consent of the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission to impose a tariff revision for collecting Rs.1,574 crore to make up for a deficit of Rs.2,759 crore in the current financial year. On being petitioned to allow the board raise Rs.650 crore through tariff revision, the commission had to impose a 12 per cent hike and it had drawn the flak of the public.
While a broad spectrum of consumers were forced to bear the brunt of the hike, the board continues to remain lethargic towards collecting substantial sums due from Central and State government departments, public sector undertakings and major private companies.
As per official figures drawn up by the board till December 31, 2012, arrears due from private high-tension and extra high-tension consumers have been pegged at Rs.497 crore. Arrears excluding those contested in court alone stood at Rs.209 crore. Among the private consumers, a company based in Palakkad with an arrear of Rs.45 crore and another one in Perumbavoor with Rs.42.57 crore topped the list of those who owed substantial amounts to the board. The Central PSUs owe Rs.23.53 crore and Central governm ent departments Rs.48 lakh.
Dues from energy transactions with other States have been pegged at Rs.4.5 crore and the State PSUs including Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, Kerala Automobiles Limited, and Alleppey Spinning Mills amounted to Rs.456.25 crore. The local self-government institutions owe Rs.51 crore. The power charge arrears of the board licensees including Kinfra, Technopark, and Rubber Park amounted to Rs.14.66 lakh. Since these have not been entangled in any litigation, recovering the arrears was not a tough task. These sums have further increased over the past four months.
Official sources told The Hindu here on Thursday that the inertia of the authorities concerned in expediting the legal process was one of the main impediments in recovering the dues from the erring customers. The laxity in consistently tracking the dues has taken a heavy toll on the finances of the board.
The government had asked the board to introduce a centralised system for collecting the power charge arrears.