Power distribution companies (Discoms) need to recover over ₹30,000 crore from State government departments alone.

The quantum of dues is staggering even after netting off the Electricity Duty that is to be paid to State governments by the Discoms. According to data compiled by the Centre, Discoms are left with dues worth over ₹16,000 crore from government departments, after offsetting the Electricity Duty.

The Electricity Duty is used to cross subsidise power consumption in a State. The duty is usually paid by industrial consumers and the amount collected is used to offer cheaper power to agricultural and domestic consumers. The State government uses this tax to subsidise needy consumers.

Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Punjab figure in the list of top 10 States with the highest quantum of dues to Discoms.

It appears that the State government departments are not paying their Discoms and then using the Electricity Duty to offset the bills. This has been red flagged by the Centre. In a presentation to the State governments, the Ministry of Power said high government department dues exist with high liabilities of Electricity Duty on the balance sheet of Discoms. “Proper transactions between the States and Discoms for each other’s dues (Electricity Duty and Government Department usage of electricity) and their correct accountal would improve collection efficiency, which is highly understated,” the Centre said.

Uttar Pradesh tops the list with ₹11,176 crore outstanding government department dues and Maharashtra comes second with ₹5,419-crore dues as on March 2018.

But the Discoms also have a high quantum of Electricity Duty payable to the State governments as on March 2018-end. According to the Ministry of Power, Uttar Pradesh will recover ₹7,057 crore (63 per cent of the dues) from its Discoms through the Electricity Duty. Maharashtra seeks to recover ₹4,435 crore or 82 per cent of the total dues from its Discoms through the duty.