escoms: Karnataka govt owes Rs 20,000 crore to five Escoms | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai said a panel headed by former IAS officer K Jairaj will be set up to revitalise Escoms (electricity supply companies) of the state, but with dues of Rs 20,000 crore, the government is the biggest defaulter.
While various departments and local bodies have to pay about Rs 5,975 crore cumulatively to five Escoms — Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom), Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Company (Cescom), Mysuru, Gulbarga Electricity Supply Company (Gescom), Mangalore Electricity Supply Company (Mescom), and Hubli Electricity Supply Company (Hescom) — the finance department owes Rs 12,912 crore towards subsidy for 30.6 lakh irrigation pumpsets.
Energy department officials said unless the government settles pending dues, Escoms cannot be revived. But the government is facing acute fund shortage and finance officials said they have informed the chief minister the dues are so huge that it will take a long time to settle them in phases.
“Jairaj will have a daunting task on hand to revamp Escoms, given the huge amount of pending bills from the government itself. A cosmetic makeover will not help unless his panel recovers the outstanding dues. It is to be seen how he achieves this when the government is complaining of empty coffers,” said MG Prabhakar, energy expert and former advisory council member, Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission.
The government order constituting the Jairaj committee is expected shortly. Bommai selected the former bureaucrat considering his vast domain experience as energy secretary for about 10 years. “I am waiting for the government order. The main issue is the financial crisis Escoms are facing. I am confident we can revive the companies with the CM’s guidance,” Jairaj said.
Energy minister V Sunil Kumar said the outstanding dues are highest for Bescom. The company, which supplies power to eight districts (Bengaluru Urban, Rural, Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Ramanagaram, Tumakuru, Chitradurga, and Davangere) has to recover Rs 3,750 crore. Of that, BBMP and BWSSB owe Rs 3,310 crore. Gram panchayats cumulatively owe Rs 2,444 crore to all five Escoms.
“The indifference of BBMP and BWSSB and lethargy of Bescom officials to ensure timely bill collection are the reasons for pending dues. It is important to recover them, else Escoms cannot settle what they owe to the power-generating companies, which is about Rs 2,500 crore,” said Sunil Kumar.
He said as a strict measure, the energy department plans to fix prepaid metres at government departments.
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