HC seeks details on water-gulping industries

Cuttack: The High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to furnish details in an affidavit stating as to how many industries are drawing how much water from reservoirs and what amount of water compensation charges these industries are paying to the exchequer.

This direction came from the division bench of Justices B P Das and B K Mishra which is adjudicating over a batch of PILs that have challenged the recent decision of Orissa Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) in which it was proposed to hike the power tariff for all consumers for 2011-12 financial year.

The proposed hike for domestic consumers that was supposed to be effective from April 1 was however, stayed by the High Court by its interim order passed on March 31. While the bench currently adjudicating about the merit and maintainability of the PILs, it adjourned the case to be heard again on July 25.

The interim stay slapped on collection of hiked power tariff is also extended to the next date of hearing, informed petitioner Dilip Kumar Mohapatra of Keonjhar Navanirman Samiti, who is also a practising advocate of the High Court.

Arguing the case, the petitioner advocate on the day brought to the notice of the High Court that many industries which are drawing water from various reservoirs are not paying the mandatory water compensation charges to the state government.

Quoting a report prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the counsel for the petitioner informed the court that the state government had lost nearly Rs 229 crores between 2004 and 2009 over this head.

The counsel further told the court that at least 19 industries are drawing water from various reservoirs. "But barring only one, no other industry has paid any water compensation charges to the state government over these years," the counsel told the court annexing a copy of the CAG report.

Expressing surprise over these glaring facts and figures, the HC directed the state irrigation department to furnish the details of the matter through an affidavit before the next date of hearing.

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