Clubbing of bills a distant dream


It turned out as expected. The proposal by the Punjab Government to collect water and sewerage (user) charges from domestic and other non-residential supply consumers from March 2016 has failed to materialise due to several reasons. As things stand now, it might take a couple of more months before the user charges are added to the electricity bills of consumers in the state.Even though Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) had issued a commercial circular (no. 3 of 2016) in January 2016, directing all chief engineers of zones in Punjab for the recovery of user charges from domestic and non-residential consumers under the provisions of the Punjab Municipal Water Metering Policy. However, sources revealed that the implementation of the policy had been deferred for the time being.Top PSPCL officials attribute the delay in giving effect to the policy to inability of the urban local bodies (municipal corporations and municipal committees across the state) to provide complete data base of residents, especially the consumers who fall in special category of non-residential supply from whom 2 per cent of the amount of electricity bill was to be received as user charges.Not only this, like the Municipal Corporation of Ludhiana, a majority of urban local bodies are yet to complete the statutory requirement of according approval to proposal in their general house meeting. If a top official of the MC is to be believed, user charges for water supply and sewerage could be collected by the PSPCL with electricity bills only after the general house adopts the proposal, which again, is easier said than done at least in the case of Ludhiana.The general house meeting of the MC held on February 17 here had to be called off after a stormy debate over the recovery of user charges with electricity bills amid staunch opposition by councillors belonging to the Congress and those owing allegiance to rebel Akali legislators, the Bains brothers.It is reliably learnt that yet another move is under way by Mayor Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria to achieve consensus on the issue in an all-party meeting to be convened in the next couple of days to pave the way for ratification of the proposal (for recovery of user charges) by the MC general house.The PSPCL Chief Engineer (Central Zone), NK Sharma, said being a policy decision to be implemented all over the state, necessary action would be taken only after specific instructions were received from the headquarters and complete data base of consumers was provided by the Local Government Department, Punjab, to the billing section of the PSPCL.