“It was a long pending issue. Initially, the bill was around Rs 50 lakh and then rose to Rs 70 lakh and kept rising with interest. He has waived off the entire bill. It was a big burden on us and impossible for us to pay it as market agreements were not signed,” he said
Panaji: In a major relief to the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP), the government has waived off the Rs 6 crore electricity bill of the Panaji municipal market.
CCP mayor Uday Madkaikar said that the chief minister waived off the bill.
“It was a long pending issue. Initially, the bill was around Rs 50 lakh and then rose to Rs 70 lakh and kept rising with interest. He has waived off the entire bill. It was a big burden on us and impossible for us to pay it as market agreements were not signed,” he said.
Signing of agreements with market tenants will start next month, Madkaikar said.
“The draft agreement is ready. We are only awaiting full-fledged ownership. The cabinet has approved this and we are awaiting the official letter. Once we get it we will be signing agreements next month,” he said.
Madkaikar added that it has become difficult for the corporation to maintain the market through sopo fees alone and said CCP will be outsourcing the cleaning and maintenance of the market, including the fish market, which will work out cheaper for it.
In November last year, power minister Nilesh Cabral said he had moved a note to the chief minister to recover pending power dues from the grants the corporation receives. He had stated that the power department cannot provide electricity for free merely because the corporation doesn’t sign contracts with the vendors in the markets.
After the power department last year cut power supply to the municipal market, the corporation agreed to pay dues in instalments and later withdrew its consent stating that it didn’t have sufficient funds to meet the department’s requirement of paying Rs 1 crore initially followed by further instalments of Rs 1 crore every fifteen days.
The vegetable, fruit and flower vendors in the municipal market who pay regular sopo fees bore the brunt of the power department’s crack down on the corporation last year as they struggled to sell produce in the market in the sweltering heat.
The issue began when the temporary electricity connection, issued in the name of Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDC) which constructed the first phase of the market in 2003 and the second phase in 2007, was not transferred to the corporation.