Haryana CM Withdraws Penalty Circular for Electricity Theft by Farmers

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Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has announced the withdrawal of a circular issued by the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN), which imposed penalties on farmers caught stealing electricity for agricultural purposes. The circular, issued on the recommendation of the Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission (HERC), faced strong opposition from the chief minister, who deemed the penalty formula illogical. Khattar emphasized that the state government is not obliged to follow HERC’s orders, as it shoulders the burden of providing free power to the agricultural sector. The circular called for hefty fines, amounting to up to ₹6 lakh, to be imposed on farmers accused of power theft. In the interest of farmers, the state government promptly decided to prevent the implementation of the circular. Khattar urged farmers to refrain from engaging in power theft and highlighted the government’s efforts to support them, such as providing 61,500 new tubewell connections and 50,000 solar pump connections under a policy.

Furthermore, the chief minister announced the upcoming launch of the “Antyodaya Urja Suraksha Yojana.” This initiative aims to provide electricity connections to families with an annual income of less than ₹1 lakh, whose connections have been disconnected, by waiving off arrears. Eligible families will be required to pay either 50% of the outstanding electricity bills’ principal amount or the average electricity bill of a maximum of one year, whichever is lower, in installments. Khattar also shared plans for the next Jan Samvad program, scheduled to take place in Mahendragarh district. He highlighted the success of previous programs, where discussions on government schemes, job transparency, and policies have taken place.

The ministers and MPs will conduct similar programs in their respective areas starting in July. Regarding the uncertainty surrounding the Ambala Lok Sabha bypoll, Khattar mentioned that there have been instances when bypolls were not held when a seat became vacant a year or slightly more before the end of the five-year term. As the Ambala Lok Sabha seat recently fell vacant due to the demise of BJP MP Rattan Lal Kataria, the decision to hold a bypoll rests with the central government. Khattar assured that an appropriate decision would be made after careful consideration of the technical aspects involved. He cited previous cases where bypolls were not conducted with a year or 16 months remaining in the term.

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