Over 800 Zilla Parishad schools in Pune are suffering from power cuts presently. A senior official stated that the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) disconnected the electricity supply in the educational institutions because of the non-payment of dues. According to NDTV, the outstanding bill to be paid is over two crores.
The CEO of Pune Zilla Parishad, Ayush Prasad, said, "Power supply has been snapped for around 800 schools. Primarily, cause of disconnection is non-payment of bills, as well as issues about wrong billing, which have been raised with the MSEDCL."
Contingency Fund Not Distributed By The Government
Before the school reopened, an inspection took place in schools to see if they were in perfect shape. It was then that the power cut issue arose. When asked about it, the school authorities said that the state had promised them a contingency fund. However, the needful was not done, posing a hurdle for them to pay the outstanding dues. The money has not been distributed since the last financial year.
"We have also allowed gram panchayats to pay off these bills from local funds such as school improvement funds. Along with this, a lot of confusion is there about who should pay the dues. Some schools became quarantine centres. Therefore, the gram panchayats raised a question about whether the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) should pay the bill.
As for the MSEDCL, they are in a 'fragile state' at the moment. "MSEDCL is already in a fragile state as electricity bills worth ₹72000 crores are pending from consumers of various categories. There is no other reason for disconnecting the supply. ZP should pay the bills. They can pay it in instalments as well," Rajendra Pawar, superintending engineer of MSEDCL's Pune rural circle, told the Hindustan Times.
In light of this, Ayush Prasad has assured the electricity board, "It would be the responsibility of MSEDCL to resume electricity supply once the bills are paid. I assured them that they will be paid, but they should resume electricity supply for the sake of the students."