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Govt. overdue in Darjeeling hills goes deeper under trouble

SILIGURI : Ground level financial realities are always second priority to political leaders. And Darjeeling hills in West Bengal is one more example. Even after almost three year of its coming to power, ruling Trinamool Congress(TMC) Government in the state could not shape up the fate of over Rs 150 crore pending government bills in the hills, that got piled up due to 'Non-payment of Government bills' call of Gorkhaland activists since April 2008. The complicated knot is likely to get further tightened due to recent political dynamics that has erased erstwhile friendship between TMC and Gorkhaland activists organization Gorkha Janamukti Morcha.West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) is one of the largest sufferers of the situation. "The receivable, mostly from domestic and commercial sectors in Darjeeling hills, got piled up to Rs 102 crore since June 2008 to June 2011. 

But, we are yet to receive any official directive on how to handle this." said WBSEDCL officials."All the knots of Darjeeling are over," said WB CM after signing of the tri-partite agreement between state, center and GJM in July 2011 regarding formation of Darjeeling's special autonomous governing body as GJM demanded. As per clause number 14 of the agreement, Government agreed to give a grant of Rs 600 crore to hills in next three years. But it remained silent on this overdue.Subsequently, announcing end of the 'non cooperation' movement, GJM Chief Mr. B. Gurung also requested hill dwellers to restart paying current bills from 1st August onwards. But, he also remained silent on the overdue. "We have requested Government for waiver of this," he said.Now, "We should collect overdue. 

But Government does not give clear directive on whether to take punitive actions against the defaulters or not. Or else, Government can waive the overdue But in that case as per Indian Electricity Act 2003, state Government will have to compensate entire pending electricity bill amount accepting increased financial load on itself," said the WBSEDCL officials. With the hot chemistry between TMC and GJM developed following GJM's supporting BJP in just concluded Loksabha election, state is not likely to waive it. ON the other side, it does not have enough strong governance in Darjeeling to back up WBSEDCL in getting back the receivable. But no one among those who matter in Government seem to be very serious on the issue as,"We are looking into the matter," remained the stereotyped answer from them when asked.
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