September 26, 2020 6:56:23 am
The Union Power Ministry has told Jharkhand to pay up more than Rs 5,600 crore in power supply dues to Damodar Valley Corporation by Saturday, failing which the Reserve Bank of India would deduct the sum from the state government’s account in quarterly instalments.
In a letter dated September 11, Ministry Under-Secretary P K Sinha said the state power utility, Jharkhand Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd (JBVNL), had been irregular in paying power bills over the last few years, resulting in the accumulation of “huge dues to the tune of Rs 5,608.32 crore as on 13.8.2020”.
But the Centre has also dangled a solution before Jharkhand—the power utility can “avail loan under Atmanirbhar Bharat” package wherein the government has announced an infusion of Rs 90,000 crore for the power sector.
The letter said JBVNL had breached a pact between the Centre, Jharkhand and RBI on payment of dues.
“Hence a notice is hereby served to the State government of Jharkhand to ensure payment of outstanding dues of (Rs) 5608.32 crore payable by the JBVNL to DVC within 15 days from the date of issue on this notice. In case the JBVNL fails to make payment within the timeline… RBI will be requested to debit Rs 1417.50 crore each in October 2020, January, April and July 2021 from the account of state government being maintained by the RBI and credit into the account of GOI,” the letter said.
Sources in the state government said the issue of dues has been a long-pending one and that a portion of the amount is disputed by the state. Non-payments have also led to power cuts in some areas of Jharkhand.
State Chief Secretary Sukhdev Singh earlier said: “We have received a letter from the Centre and I have convened a meeting of the Energy and Finance Secretary to look into this issue.”
Avinash Kumar, Principal Secretary of Energy Department, said: “We have sent a letter to the Central government to reconsider (this).” He declined to comment further.
The letter also drew the state’s attention towards schemes under Atmanirbhar Bharat. “In connection, it is worthwhile to mention that under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Package GOI, has announced liquidity infusion 90000 crore for the power sector. As per this package, DISCOMS can avail loan through REC/PFC (CPSEs of Ministry of Power, GOI) to discharge their liability to the CPSU…JBVNL can avail loan in this package to pay the outstanding dues,” the letter said.
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