Kunal Diwan

BSES (Yamuna and Rajdhani) has accused the MCD of non-payment of dues

All these are ploys of the discoms to avoid paying the required 5 per cent tax: MCD

NEW DELHI: The dues-and-arrears issue between the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the private power distribution companies has just got murkier.

A day after the BSES (Yamuna and Rajdhani) accused the civic body of non-payment of dues, the MCD Standing Committee Chairman Vijender Gupta on Sunday vehemently denied such allegations saying: “All these are ploys of the discoms to avoid paying the 5 per cent tax that they owe the MCD. The tax has to be paid irrespective of whether or not the civic body owes them money for electricity charges. Even if we owe them, they have no right to correlate the tax with the owed amount. The tax is a separate entity and is payable to the Government no matter what.”

The discoms’ announcement that the civic body owed them nearly Rs.76 crore in electricity consumption charges followed a Standing Committee meeting this past week where the Commissioner Ashok Kumar had ordered “strict action” against them for failing to pay a five per cent tax on the total electricity consumed in Delhi.

“We have filed a notice against them. As per the DMC Act 154 (2), they have to pay us within 30 days of the due date else a 20 per cent penalty is levied. If the tax is still not paid then we have full right to seize the offending party’s bank accounts. We can also seize and auction their immovable property,” said Mr. Gupta.

The roots of this confusion can be traced back to when Government power agencies were about to make way for their privatised counterparts. “Earlier, when the DESU and the DVB were the power agencies, the MCD was not very systematic in collecting the power tax because Government organisations were involved. Now, since private companies are involved in power distribution, we are trying to enforce a transparent and stringent mechanism of tax payment. These private players think they can get away without paying tax that they owe the Government.”

According to Mr. Gupta, the North Delhi Power Limited (NDPL) paid the MCD Rs.7 crore each month in electricity tax. The MCD in turn paid NDPL Rs.3-4 crore each month in power charges.

“We have no problem with NDPL. They pay us in time and we clear their bills as soon as we get them. In fact, the Commissioner has made bill-payments a ‘top priority’. The Deputy Commissioner concerned is to be held directly responsible if there is any disconnection drive due to non-payment of bills,” the Chairman explained.

At a recent meeting the Secretary (Power) had directed both the MCD and BSES (Rajdhani and Yamuna) to conduct a thorough audit to estimate their financial dues. As per these audits, BSES owed the MCD around Rs.130 crore in tax while the MCD owed BSES around Rs.88 crore in consumption charges. “All our dues are cleared. Some bills have not been paid because the power companies themselves delay giving us the bills since they want money in a lump-sum,” he concluded.