Should the industrialists fail to pay their dues, they will be deprived of electricity, which will finally hurt their business

When the entire country was reeling under darkness due to 18 hours of load-shedding during the winter season from 2014 to 2018, a total of 309 industrialists, entrepreneurs and business houses were enjoying uninterrupted supply of electricity through dedicated feeders and trunk lines under a special provision facilitated by the state-owned Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). At that time, the general consumers had to wait for hours even to charge their mobile phones. But a handful of industrialists had been enjoying access to electricity round-the-clock while the household consumers were largely relying on solar panels and inverters to meet their basic needs. The NEA had provided them electricity through the dedicated feeders and trunk lines after they agreed to pay 65 per cent more than the usual tariff. Now the industrialists have ganged up and are refusing to pay the outstanding dues that they owe to the NEA despite the High Court's order issued in favour of the state power utility. These industries and business houses, which enjoyed regular supply of energy through the dedicated feeder and trunk lines, owe over Rs 15 billion to the NEA. The NEA has also asked them to pay the outstanding dues in installments if they cannot pay at once. But the industrialists have threatened to shut down their businesses if they are forced to pay the tariff.

There is a clear provision in the electricity rules, which have allowed the NEA to fix tariffs on the dedicated feeders and trunk lines. The industrialists had also agreed to pay the tariff as per the rules. So, it is the duty of the concerned industrialists to pay the outstanding dues to the NEA. Otherwise, they should be ready to face legal action to be taken by the NEA.

Against this backdrop, newly-appointed Minister of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Pampha Bhusal has directed the NEA officials to collect the long-pending electricity tariff from the industrialists, who had used the dedicated feeders and trunk lines that helped run their businesses during the period of energy crisis.

She demanded clear explanation as to why the concerned NEA officials could not collect the dues and why the electricity tariff collection could not make any progress.

In order to sort out this problem, the ministry had assigned a research committee to study the electricity tariff issue, and it had also recommended collecting the dues as per the rules. Now the industrialists are arguing that they would not pay the tariff as they had not used the electricity at all. She has also sought details of the employees who were deployed in the major industrial corridors from 2015 till date. No doubt, industrialists and businesspersons play a vital role in moving the country's economy forward. But they should also abide by the rules. How can the NEA supply energy to them when they refuse to pay the electricity tariffs? If they do not foot the bills, the NEA, which is also the sole distributor of electricity, will be losing billions of rupees annually, and it will not be in a position to build more power plants in the future. Should the concerned industrialists fail to pay the dues, they will be deprived of electricity connection, which will ultimately hurt their business.

CCTV surveillance

Crime prevention and reduction is a priority of the government, the police and citizens. As such, it is necessary to adopt all possible measures to prevent and control the soaring rate of crimes, especially in the Kathmandu Valley. It is not possible for the police to be everywhere round the clock to prevent a crime.

And closed-circuit surveillance (CCTV) has proved effective in monitoring suspicious activities, assist in evidence-based criminal investigation and track down offenders. The visual technology is widespread in the developed world. And with costs coming down rapidly, CCTV cameras, under the direct supervision of the Metropolitan Police Office, are also popping up all over the Kathmandu Valley.

CCTV cameras are effective in reducing drug crimes, and vehicle and property crimes. They also help the police monitor rallies, assemblies and protest programmes – regular happenings in the capital.

However, CCTV surveillance might not be very effective in controlling violent crimes, such as murders, although it will aid in providing evidence during the investigation process. The effectiveness of the cameras is enhanced when there is good lighting, quick police operation and good communication system.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 27 2021, of The Himalayan Times.