‘Return money to people illegally collected by distribution companies’

Bhubaneswar: Cutting across party lines, members of Odisha Assembly today asked the state government to ensure return of money “illegally” collected from electricity consumers by different distribution companies in the name of “minimum charges”.

The issue was raised by the ruling BJD member and former minister Ranendra Pratap Swain during zero hour which was supported by Congress chief whip Taraprasad Bahinipati.

“Electricity consumers in Odisha have so far paid extra Rs 7,500 each in the name of minimum charge,” said Swain.

Stating that there were 56 lakh electricity consumers of which 50 lakh belonged to poor and general domestic users, Swain said Rs 60 was being collected each month in the name of “minimum charge.”

“The amount of loot could be about Rs 5,000 crore,” Swain said, adding, that there was no justification of paying minimum charge after making payment of monthly power tariff.

Though the minimum charge was not being collected since the day of reform in the power sector, the distribution companies levied minimum charge of Rs 60 per month on electricity consumers after the Centre introduced a new Electricity Act in 2003.

“This is totally illegal and illogical. How can the power companies collect Rs 60 every month in the name of minimum charge when consumers used to pay their rent,” he said.

Bahinipati drew attention of the Speaker seeking his intervention as the electricity consumers have been “looted”.

“Please recover Rs 5,000 crore from the companies and return to the people,” Bahinipati said.