Power supply to at least 800 Zilla Parishad schools has been snapped over non-payment of dues in Maharashtra's Pune district, an official said today.
The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) has snapped the power supply to these schools, the senior Zilla Parishad official said.
The cumulative outstanding bill amount is over Rs 2 crore and the primary cause of the disconnections was non-payment of power bills by schools, which were closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
"Power supply has been snapped for around 800 schools. Primarily, the cause of the disconnection is due to non-payment of bills, and issues about wrong billing have been raised with the MSEDCL," said Ayush Prasad, CEO of Pune Zilla Parishad.
Gram panchayats have been allowed to pay off the bills from their funds such as school improvement funds, he said.
As a preparation before reopening, schools were inspected to see if they had any infrastructural issues, as they had remained closed due to the pandemic, the official said.
During the inspection, it was found out that power supply had been snapped in some schools, and when schools were asked about the non-payment of bills, they cited that contingency fund given by the state government had not been distributed since the last financial year, he said.
"There are 4,600 schools in the district, of which 800 have lost power connections. The total outstanding bill for all these schools is Rs 2.28 crore. We have requested the amount from the government. We have also allowed gram panchayats to pay off these bills from local funds such as school improvement funds," he said.
Issues regarding disputed bills have been raised with the power utility, the official said.
"Some of the bills have been paid, but the connections have not yet started and we are in talks with the power utility over the resumption of the supply," he said.
Some schools were used as quarantine centres, so the respective gram panchayats have asked that power bills should be paid from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), Mr Prasad said.
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