NEA clients start clearing outstanding power bills

Nepalgunj, December 16:

Banke folks who gave in to the Maoist threat to not pay electricity bills are now in a dilemma.

The people of 17 Banke VDCs could not pay the electricity bills due to the Maoist threat. Now, having a Maoist-led government in place does not leave them an option, but to clear their outstanding dues in a lump sum.

The Maoists had debarred Nepal Electricity Authority employees from reading meters and clients from paying bills during insurgency.

Satish Niraula of Banke’s Bageswori yesterday shelled out a hefty sum of Rs 10,000 towards the first installment of the bills. He owes Rs 36,000 to the NEA. With the interest, the amount has climbed to Rs 41,000. “We are the victims as we were forced to hold back the payment on time. How can we clear such a huge sum?” he asked.

As the payable amount went on adding, the people had pressed on the Maoists for exemption. The Maoists had also assured them of some consideration.

Besides, the Maoists, in their election manifesto, had clearly stated that the overdue bills dating back to the insurgency period, would be written off.

This indifference of the ex-rebels has infuriated the commoners. Shobhakala Kandel of Bageswori said, “The Maoists have failed to fulfill their commitments.”

Banke head of the NEA Anirudra Prasad Yadav said fine was not imposed for delayed payment of the outstanding electricity bills in the conflict-hit VDCs for the period before January 15, 2007.

Seventeen VDCs, including Bageswori, Khurdakhajura, Rajhena, Udhrapur, Sonpur, Mahadev Puri, Khaskusma, Bankatuwa and Raniyapur were regarded as conflict-hit. “An arrangement was made to clear the outstanding bills in up to 10 installments,” Yadav said.