NAINITAL: The Uttarakhand high court on Wednesday came down heavily on Uttarakhand Power Corporation Limited (UPCL) while hearing a public interest litigation that cited the records of C K Tamta, general manager of the corporation, who had an electricity bill of Rs 4 lakh (92,000 units) for around 25 months but only paid Rs 425 per month as power bills.
The petition alleged that not just the GM but all employees of the corporation and their family members enjoy such benefits even after retirement. The bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma expressed their displeasure at what they called a “deliberate attempt” by UPCL to “obfuscate data” on use of electricity by its officials and said that the court is concerned about the “abuse of power” by the officials.
UPCL, however, argued in the court that meter at the GM’s house was installed in 2005, but they started to maintain records of the reading from 2015. The power corporation charges its consumers Rs 2.75 per unit for up to 100 units and Rs 5.65 per unit for 400 and above.
BP Nautiyal, the counsel appearing for the petitioner, told TOI that the court expressed its displeasure at the explanation, saying that this is obfuscation of data. “The court said that while they were initially inclined to direct a CAG audit of the book of records of the corporation, they have now given a week’s time to the UPCL to respond to the facts.”
“The court said that while they were initially inclined to direct a CAG audit of the book of records of the corporation, including the expenditure incurred by the corporation in supplying unlimited electricity virtually free of cost to its employee even post-retirement and to its family members, they have now given a week’s time to the UPCL to respond to the facts,” BP Nautiyal, the counsel appearing for the petitioner, said.
Nautiyal added, “The court also observed that even judges get only 15,000 units of electricity per year but in this case, there is no cap on usage. There is also no clarity if the officials are even paying the nominal amount or not. This is nothing but abuse of power.”
The court has now directed the UPCL to file a detailed affidavit within a week as to why such facilities are provided not only to UPCL officials but also to employees of generating as well as transmission departments of the corporation.
Nautiyal added that the court has also directed the corporation to examine the feasibility of placing limits for the consumption of electricity by its employees either in terms of value or in units consumed. “The court also directed the state secretary for energy to file an affidavit as to how such consumption of electricity is permitted,” Nautiyal said.
Meanwhile, UPCL managing director BCK Mishra said that they have formed a committee to look into the matter. “We will talk to all the stakeholders and reach a decision. However, this is a practice that has been going on since we were part of the UP government. We will soon respond to the honourable high court, and if asked, will put a cap on the usage.”