Chandigarh: It has been made mandatory to install smart pre-paid meters on government electricity connections in Punjab and the state government will now have to pay electricity bills in advance.

The work of installation of pre-paid meters in government offices will start from March 1 and all 53,000 government connections across Punjab will be covered by March 31, 2024.

The Union Power Ministry has approved a scheme of about Rs 9,900 crore for power reforms in Punjab, including a grant of Rs 3,200 crore, while the remaining amount will be given as a loan.

The Union Power Ministry will provide the amount to the Punjab government on the condition that the state government will clear the old arrears of Rs 9020 crore of power subsidy in five years, due to which the government will have to pay Rs 1805 crore per year to powercom. The new subsidy will also have to be given simultaneously.

Powercom has issued a regular circular today to convert government electricity connections into smart pre-paid meters. Powercom will install pre-paid meters at its own cost and is estimated to cost Rs 5500 per meter. There are 53,000 government connections in Punjab, which will cost around Rs 29.15 crore to convert them into pre-paid.

On pre-paid meters, the government will also give a rebate of one per cent on the electricity bill and the government will now have to pay the electricity consumption of government offices in advance.

The minimum recharge amount will have to be Rs 1,000. As soon as the recharge amount is zero, the power supply will automatically stop. The power supply will be disconnected between 11 am and 1 pm on any day other than the holiday, if the amount runs out.

No security will be taken for the newly installed government pre-paid meters. PSPCL will adjust the security of existing power connections in the pending dues of the bill. The central conditions could become a big problem for the Punjab government as the government will have to make advance arrangements for electricity bills and subsidies. This central decision will be a big relief for cash strapped PSPCL.

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