KATHMANDU, Dec 23: The electricity supply to certain industries, persistently refusing to settle their electricity tariff dues for using dedicated and trunk lines, has been disconnected since Friday evening.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal directed the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to disconnect power from such lines and collect the outstanding tariff. Following the prime minister’s directive to collect revenue by disconnecting power lines of major industries, the authority executed the disconnection for a few industries.
Criticism arose when the NEA exempted large industries from power disconnection while small and household consumers faced disconnection for non-payment of standard tariffs. According to the NEA, the power lines of Jagadamba Steel, Reliance Spinning Mills, Ghorahi Cement, and Arghakhanchi Cement industries have been cut.
As per the NEA, Jagdamba alone owes a fee of Rs 4.14 billion. Similarly, Reliance has an outstanding amount of Rs 1.94 billion, Ghorahi Cement owes Rs 1.36 billion, and Arghakhanchi Cement has yet to pay electricity tariffs worth Rs 1.30 billion.
NEA officials stated that power disconnection was implemented as these industries refused to settle their dues despite repeated requests. Even in the recent report of the Auditor General, the NEA was consistently advised to recover outstanding amounts. Various parliamentary committees had already expressed interest in tariff matters and directed the prompt collection of dues.
Emergency meeting at FNCCI after power disconnection for large industries, contemplate handing over keys to government
The Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) has convened an emergency meeting in response to the sudden power disconnection to major industries on the Prime Minister’s instructions.
In the meeting held at 10 o’clock in the morning on Saturday at the office of the FNCCI, Cement Manufacturers’ Association of Nepal, Nepal Rolling Mills Association, Nepal Yarn Manufacturers Association, etc, participated. Anjan Shrestha, senior vice president of the FNCCI, called an emergency meeting. Since President Chandra Prasad Dhakal is outside Kathmandu, Shrestha called the meeting. Sources said that the meeting will pressure the government to decide to hand over the keys to the industry.
“It is not appropriate for us to continue running the industry after the Prime Minister of the country suddenly called a meeting regarding the dispute between the NEA and the industrialists and ordered to cut off the line of the big industrialists,” said a vice-president of the FNCCI, “The prime minister is the guardian. He should ensure justice. But there is no point in us continuing to operate the industry after suddenly giving instructions to cut the line of the industry without any context.
According to him, the issues of dedicated and trunk are still pending in the court. He also accused the prime minister of disrupting the industrial environment by intervening in the controversial issue of tariff determination based on the Time of the Day (TOD) meter, stating that some industrialists did not submit applications for trunk and dedicated lines.
“Since the formation of this government, one after another, industrialists have been targeted. Initially, a dozen businessmen, starting with Min Bahadur Gurung, the manager of Bhatbhateni Supermarket, were arrested in the Lalita Niwas case. Now, the game has started to dismantle industries that are thriving in the country and are contributing significantly to exports,” said one of the industrialists.
“As a result, we see no alternative but to hand over the keys to the government. The private sector has been systematically targeted to end industries within the country and destabilize the state. The Prime Minister is using industrialists as pawns for his own interests, attacking industrial businessmen,” the industrialist stated.