KARACHI: With commencement of the intermediate exams, the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) disconnected the electricity connections to 12 more colleges in the city due to delay in payment of bills.
KESC spokesperson Aminur Rahman, however, told The Express Tribune that the disconnections are a routine matter under the company’s bill-recovery drive against defaulters. He said that the drive has been in full swing since the last eight months.
“Colleges have to pay electricity bills worth Rs54 million while the Sindh education department is the ‘willful defaulter’ in payment of its bills and owes around Rs115 million,” said Rahman.
But the Board of Intermediate Education’s controller of examinations, Muhammad Imran Khan Chishti, found it hard to wrap his mind around why the electricity of institutions which had paid their bills, like the Khursheed Government Girls College located in Shah Faisal Colony, was being cut off. “They showed me a copy of the paid bill but the KESC still disconnected their supply last Friday.”
Chishti said that despite making promises of deferring load shedding during exam hours, the KESC administration failed to do so. “Perhaps KESC is using the arrears of bills to avoid being blamed for conducting load shedding at exam centres.”
His argument was supported by the education department’s director general of colleges, Dr Nasir Ansar, who declared the electricity disconnections as “KESC’s deliberate injustice to students taking their exams”.
Dr Ansar claimed that the directorate of colleges paid Rs16 million to the KESC and the payment’s approval was received by the Sindh finance department. He hoped that the rest of the outstanding dues would be paid soon by the department.
Expressing his displeasure, he said that the power supply to some institutes was cut off due to the delay in payment of small bills worth Rs500 or less. “It is a punishment for the students taking their exams at institutes like the Government College for Women located at Shahra-e-Liaquat.”
The KESC spokesperson denied these claims and said that evidence of bill payment or disconnection due to delay in payment of meager amounts should be provided to the company.
“The only reason the education department is feeling the pressure is because thousands of students are suffering due to their longstanding payments to the KESC,” said Rahman. “They cannot expect us [KESC] to provide them free electricity.” Rahman explained that the supply to public departments and institutions is not disconnected after a mere one month notice. “We provide them sufficient grace period so that the people dealing with such establishments do not face hardships.”
But, according to Rahman, the department does not appear to be making any headway in payment of bills despite issuance of multiple notices. “As a general rule, the company does not discriminate between its defaulters and so we had to take action against the education department after giving them ample time for payments.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2012.