Friday, December 29, 2023

PM assures of forming a powerful probe panel to resolve dispute between NEA and industries

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', who last Thursday instructed the electricity authority to collect long-standing disputed electricity tariff dues from dedicated feeder and trunk line users, today assured the industrialists to resolve the issue by forming a powerful probe panel.

The Prime Minister is ready to form a powerful probe panel led by a judge of the Supreme Court," according to an industrialist, who went to meet the prime minister with 10-point memorandum.

The team led by senior vice president of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) Anjan Shrestha, former FNCCI president Pashupati Muraraka, and Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI) president Rajesh Agrawal, after handing over the 10-point memorandum, requested the Prime Minister to form a powerful probe panel led by a judge of the Supreme Court under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 2026 (1969).

The industrialists, on the occasion, also clarified the premier that they have been paying their normal electricity tariff regularly to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). But the NEA has been claiming that they should also pay premium tariff, which according to the industrialists, they have not used.

"If the NEA can produce the Time-of-Day (ToD) data we are also ready to pay the claimed due," they assured the Prime Minister, complaining of the power supply being disconnected without taking any initiatives for the resolution of disputes over NEA-claimed electricity tariff arrears of those with dedicated feeders and trunk lines.

The ToD meter keeps all the data that clarifies the usage of the electricity. "But the NEA has not been able to produce the ToD data and pressuring the industrialists to pay the dues, of premium bill, which they have not used."

The NEA executive director Kulman Ghising had, organising a press meet on Thursday, claimed that no exemptions could be granted, as directives were already issued to clear dues from dedicated feeder and trunk line users after disconnecting the electricity supply lines. "The affected consumers must either engage in the appeal process or settle their dues through installment payments," he said, adding that the NEA came into action from last Friday after the Prime Minister Dahal gave them instruction last Thursday to collect electricity tariff dues.

Ghising also blamed the industrialists for utilising electricity from dedicated feeders and trunk lines during the load-shedding times, and not paying the premium tariff, which according to him is unjust.

But the industrialists claimed that they have been paying electricity bill regularly. "There is a disagreement between the NEA and industries regarding the premium imposed on trunkline consumers," they said, adding that they have not paid the premium to the NEA. "We cannot afford to pay for electricity we have not consumed."

NEA has cut power supplies to nine industries that, it claims, have outstanding dues running over Rs 12 billion. But according the private sector, the NEA disconnected the lines without showing seriousness in addressing the dispute of payment of arrears of dedicated feeders and trunk lines, which has been in place for the past six years.

The issue of payment of electricity arrears of different industries using dedicated feeders and trunk lines surfaced six years ago.  The dispute has prolonged, as courts, parliamentary committees, Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had directed the NEA to collect the arrears, but NEA has no enough evidence to prove that these industries have actually consumed the electricity, which was a luxury during the load-shedding period. 

But after the Prime Minister Dahal instructed the NEA to collect electricity tariff dues last Thursday, the NEA disconnected the electricity of four industries, including Reliance Mills, Jagadamba Steel, Arghakanchi Cement and Sarbottam Cement. On Sunday, the NEA disconnected five more industries electricity, making it to a total of 9 industries.

What is dedicated and trunk line

A dedicated feeder involves the supply of electricity through a separate line directly from a substation. This feeder system ensures continuous power supply even during load shedding by allowing electricity to be provided from an alternative line when one is subject to load shedding. On the other hand, a trunk line delivers electricity from the transmission line to the industry by placing a transformer inside the industry itself.

No comments: