Government Directs NEA to Restore Power Supply to Disconnected Manufacturers

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Govt forms a three-member committee under the leadership of Former SC Justice Girish Chandra Lal to investigate the controversial issue

KATHMANDU, Jan 10: The government has asked the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to resume electricity supply to the manufacturers who faced action for refusing to clear the electricity dues of the controversial dedicated feeders and trunk lines.

Amid the ongoing debate on whether the business firms concerned have to pay the dues or not, a cabinet meeting held on Tuesday decided to reconnect the electricity lines to the industries. Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Rekha Sharma shared the government’s decision on the issue.

In the last two weeks, the NEA disconnected electricity lines to more than two dozen manufacturers for failing to settle their dues for using special facilities provided to them during the load shedding period.

The NEA records show that out of 239 production-based entities, which had utilized the special facility provided by the authority, 178 have already cleared their electricity bills. Out of these, 61 firms alone  had arrears amounting to Rs 22.24 billion. They have been pressurizing the NEA to take back its decision.

After the NEA cut the electricity supply lines to these manufacturers, the private sector has been pressuring the government to resume the power supply stating that the NEA forced them to pay the tariffs ‘arbitrarily’. They have been demanding the NEA present the evidence of their dues based on the electricity consumption using Time of Day (ToD) metering, which the NEA has refused to disclose till date.

Earlier, the NEA, giving a deadline of five years to pay the arrears of the dedicated and trunk lines, had asked the manufacturers to settle their dues. Issuing a public notice on Tuesday, the NEA has requested the concerned parties to contact the relevant distribution centers of the NEA within the next 30 days to apply for a settlement on an installment basis.

The notice stated that a meeting of the NEA Board of Directors on January 1 made a special arrangement to allow them to pay the outstanding amount in installments. The state-owned power utility also clarified that this is only a one-time arrangement.

Tuesday’s cabinet meeting also decided to form a three-member committee led by Former Justice of the Supreme Court Girish Chandra Lal to investigate the controversial issue of the trunk lines.

Earlier on Friday, Energy Minister Shakti Bahadur Basnet in an effort to solve the issue held a discussion with the industrialists whose electricity lines were cut. In the discussion, Minister Basnet assured the industrialists to find a solution to the problem.

A day after meeting with the industrialists, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal called the Chairman of the Electricity Regulatory Commission Dilli Bahadur Singh and NEA Managing Director Kulman Ghising to talk about solving the problem. In the discussion, Ghising expressed his disagreement with Prime Minister Dahal on forming a committee for this purpose.

Source: Republica