Bhubaneswar: Opposition BJP and Congress on Saturday demanded that a judicial commission must be constituted by the State government to probe alleged irregularities to the tune of Rs 480 crore by the power distribution companies (discoms) in the State.
Notably, an audit by the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) had revealed that bank security deposit of Odisha’s 59 lakh power consumers had come down from Rs 1544.47 crores on March 31, 2014 to Rs 1064.51 crores on October 31 of the same year, a difference of Rs 480 crore.
“Looking at the gravity of the issue, the State government should intervene immediately and set up a judicial commission to investigate the matter. Based on the commission’s report, action should be taken against the erring officials,” senior BJP leader Biswabhusan Harichandan said.
Lambasting the State government for not taking action in time, Congress’ Niranjan Patnaik stated, “Either the State government or the CAG must investigate the matter. Not only investigation, stern and exemplary action must be taken to prevent such an occurrence in future. Since it is public money, utmost care should be taken to protect it.”
Meanwhile, the consumers’ panel has held OERC responsible for sitting idle on the matter and not informing the government in time.
“After coming across the difference in deposit money, OERC should have immediately intimated the government and instituted a committee to probe it. The consumers have every right to know about their caution money,” president of Odisha Electricity Consumers’ Association Ramesh Satapathy stated.
Though the issue has irked several other consumer bodies and civil society organisations, the ruling BJD promptly washed its hands of the issue, saying the OERC should recommend action.
“If there is an allegation about misappropriation of public money, the ball is now in the court of OERC. Based on the audit report, now it can recommend the State government for action,” former Energy minister and BJD vice-president Surya Narayan Patro said.
The matter is likely to deepen in the days to come as OERC has recently concluded hearing on power tariff hike in the State and is expected to announce new tariff next month.