The Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd (MeECL) will not be able to waive all electricity bills to alleviate at least some of the hardships brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has had severe economic consequences on the public.
Speaking in the Assembly today, Power Minister James Sangma said that the corporation has “many liabilities” and it would therefore be impossible. The financial health of the MeECL is already in dire straits and a huge income write-off would probably be disastrous.
However, the minister informed that delayed payment charges have been waived for all consumers and the government is also studying ways to improve billing efficiency, perhaps by installing “smart meters” that will be funded by the Asian Development Bank.
Only yesterday the Meghalaya Power Distribution Corporation Ltd (MePDCL) announced a one-time settlement for all categories of defaulting consumers, including those who have had their connections disconnected, offering to cancel 30 percent of their outstanding dues if they pay the remainder by January 31 next year, thereby rewarding those who have defaulted on their payments rather than those who pay their bills regularly.
In response to a supplementary question by Nongpoh MLA Mayralborn Syiem, Sangma said that the government will review a condition imposed by the MePGCL that malfunctioning transformers in villages will be fixed only if payments of at least 30 percent of outstanding electricity bills are made.
Syiem said that some villages have cumulative outstanding bills of more than Rs 10 lakh, with even 30 percent of this out of their financial reach. The minister replied that the government will review the matter and hopes to remove the 30 percent condition.