Chennai company owes electricity dues of Rs 175 crore | Chennai News

CHENNAI: Able Utility Tangedco, notorious for taking on electricity bill defaulters, has done little to recoup its electricity dues from the Greater Chennai Corporation. The civic body owes Tangedco Rs 175 crore and failed to pay its electricity bills between 2018 and 2021.
In April, the company sent a circular to the electric utility to assess its dues for 2022.

Therefore, local TNEB staff in various outlying areas such as Ambattur, Manali and Madhavaram temporarily disconnected the power supply to GCC’s streetlights, the company’s area engineers from GCC’s electrical department said. “It is only after the intervention of senior officials that they restore power,” said an assistant engineer.
Prior to 2018, the company had adjusted dues of Rs 43 crore on its land leased from Tangedco for transformers and EB stations. Since then, there has been no formal agreement on dues, which has led to heavy handedness from local authorities.
“In 2015-2016, a written agreement was concluded between the company and Tangedco not to disconnect the electricity even if contributions existed. However, the dues were paid later and the previous agreement was concluded. When dues started accumulating from 2018, no formal arrangements were made,” said an Area 3 EA.
Much of the problem with non-payment of dues lies in the failure to upgrade the society’s revenue model, which relies heavily on property taxes to pay off dues and debts. The civic body also did not allocate money to pay its EB dues in the company’s recent budget.
Officials said that from 1.6 lakh streetlights maintained by the civic body in 2011, the number rose to 2.8 lakh after the company boundaries were expanded and areas such as Tiruvottriyur and Ambattur have entered the limits of society, which has led to an increase in consumption.
The civic body has 10,744 measured electrical connections, including street lights, buildings, Amma canteens, schools and hospitals, among others. The company’s current average annual consumption charge is around Rs 65 crore, double what it was before the expansion in 2011. The civic body’s average annual income has remained at Rs 2,000 crore rupees while its outstanding debt is 3,500 rupees. This keeps EB bills a lower priority for officials as they have larger debts to pay.
The former additional director of the municipal administration department, Dr DS Sivasamy, said that to pay its dues, the company would have to strengthen its collection of property tax to one hundred percent, focusing on large entities such as as colleges, theater owners and commercial establishments. “A certain discipline must be applied in the collection of the property tax.
Currently, the company derives 30% of its total annual income of Rs 2000 crores from property tax. About 70% of people pay their taxes on time. “GCC needs to generate revenue through the maintenance and advertising of bus shelters. Business tax can be increased for large commercial establishments,” he said.
Company officials said they have given 1.14 lakh square feet of land to TNEB for its use. “However, a formal agreement must be reached to settle all debts,” the officials said.
Municipal Corporation Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi said instructions had been given to pay TNEB dues regularly after a recent meeting with Tangedco officials. “Our rights to pay are offset by the land we gave them,” he said.
Experts said administrative arrangements such as adjusting land rental fees do not bring revenue to Tangedco. K Vishnu Mohan Rao, Senior Energy Researcher, CAG, said Tangedco is a business entity and more bad debts cannot be added to its accounts. “GCC may be able to switch to more energy-efficient lighting and explore solar lights,” he said.
Tangedco MD Rajesh Lakhani was not available for comment.

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