Rural customers pay electricity bills at dist headquarters

Biratnagar, November 6:

Over 1,200 customers in the rural region of Morang district are being compelled to pay their electricity bills in Biratnagar due to the absence of collection counters in rural areas of the district.

Three collection counters operated by Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) in Karsiya, Tankisinwari and Panitanki in Morang district have been closed for the past five years due to Maoist conflict.

Chief of Biratnagar branch of NEA Kashendra Yadav said only the collection counters at Rangeli and Belbari of Morang, outside Biratnagar is operational at present.

Yadav said upto Rs 10 million used to be collected from the counters that are closed presently.

Electricity bills of thousands of customers in rural areas of Morang that are pending for months are yet to be collected, NEA Biratnagar said.

Meanwhile, customers here have demanded resumption of operations of these closed counters.

There are around 24,000 customers of electricity outside Biratnagar and around 12,000 are affected directly due to the closure of three collection counters.

Tanka Bhattarai of Babiyabirta-3 said customers themselves are taking metre readings and paying their bills in Biratnagar.

NEA Biratnagar said customers in these regions are only paying a minimum charge.

Branch chief Yadav said employees of NEA still couldn’t be sent to villages to conduct metre readings.

“The electricity bills collection counters cannot be re-established until the ongoing peace talks reaches some concrete decision,” Yadav said.

Maoist in charge of Morang, Sagar said the closed counters of NEA wouldn’t be allowed to reopen until some suitable arrangement is reached between his party and the the seven party alliance.

“We will decide as per the outcome of the peace talks. We won’t let employees of NEA enter the villages until then,” he added.

Employees of NEA haven’t conducted metre readings in Sidhraha, Thalaha, Jhorahat, Lakhantari, Sanischare and other VDCs for more than three years now.

Altogether 80 per cent of the residents in Morang are utilising electricity service.

Three out of 65 VDCs in Morang, Yangshila, Pati and Bhogeteni VDCs continue to have no access to electricity.