Haryana Withdraws Circular Raising Power Theft Penalty On Farmers

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Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday said the circular that proposed a multifold increase in penalty on farmers for power theft has been withdrawn.He also said 80 percent of the villages in the state, numbering around 5,700, are getting 24-hours electricity, and the rest will start getting round the clock supply by the end of this year.On the he power theft circular, he said it was issued on the recommendation made by the Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission (HERC) and asserted the state government is not bound to accept it, he said.The circular raised the fine amount for farmers to upto Rs 6 lakh, whereas earlier it was between Rs 2,000 to Rs 20,000, he said.”As soon as the state government came across this circular, it was decided that in the interest of the farmers, we will not allow this provision of such a heavy penalty to be implemented,” Mr Khattar told reporters here.He said Rs 6,000 crore annual subsidy is being given by the state government to power corporations on agriculture feeders of the farmers.When asked if such a step will embolden the farmers who engage in power theft, Mr Khattar said, “First of all there are only a few cases so there is no need to spread panic. But to make it (hike penalty) 20 times is a matter of concern … On agriculture feeder supply that is given to farmers, for that the money is given by the government. So, they have no right to impose fine on them.” However, he appealed to farmers they should not indulge in any power theft.Mr Khattar said during the past more than eight years, the BJP-led government has carried out many reforms in power sector in domestic and industrial categories, including improving the infrastructure.He said the line losses have come down to 11 percent in March 2023 from 34 percent in 2014, and power utilities are in profit.The state government has given 61,500 new tubewell connections, besides 50,000 solar pump connections under the PM Kusum Yojana, he said.Mr Khattar also announced a settlement scheme — ‘Antyodaya Urja Suraksha Yojana’ — for families with annual income less than Rs 1 lakh, whose electricity connections have been disconnected due to power bill arrears.He said that 50 percent of the principal amount of outstanding electricity bills of such ‘Antyodaya’ families or the average electricity bill of maximum one year; whichever is less, will be taken from them.”For example, if the average annual electricity bill of a family is Rs 8,000 or Rs 10,000 and their total outstanding amount is Rs 6,000, then out of Rs 6,000, only Rs 3,000 will be taken from such families. And if someone’s outstanding bill is more than Rs 20,000, then the average annual bill amount of Rs 10,000 will be taken. Also, this amount will be taken in installments in the next bills,” he said.