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Even as the business establishments reel under successive lockdowns,  power was disconnected from 179 shops on Friday due to the non-payment of electricity dues for two months.

“The transformer connected to the Unnayan Bhawan shops was disconnected as electricity dues for March and April remain unpaid,” said Gitanjali Chetia.

Chetia is the area manager of Industrial Revenue Collection Area (ICRA) under the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited, Jorhat.

The Unnayan Bhawan houses the Unnayan Super Market comprising 179 shops. The bill for March and April of the market is about Rs 4 lakh.

The bill is paid by the Jorhat Municipal Board, which has hence been dissolved in March end following completion of five years term of the elected ward commissioners.

On being asked why the shopkeepers had not been given time as most of them were suffering losses or no revenue at all in the past couple of months, Chetia said that the lockdown had begun on March 25 and they should have at least paid March’s bill.

She further said that some other establishments in other parts of Jorhat which had not paid their dues had also been disconnected.

The Unnayan Bhawan which also houses the Zila Parishad office has a separate transformer and has not been disconnected.

Several shops, given out on rent by JMB, have a been served notices recently by the Board to vacate premises immediately for non-payment of rent, non-renewal of tenancy and accrual of rent, some reportedly for a year or so.

Jorhat district AASU has strongly opposed the move of asking the shop-keepers to vacate the premises without any prior reminder or having a discussion.

The Unnayan Super Market is a busy market complex in a multi-storied building with 179 shops located near the Jorhat Deputy Commissioner’s office complex.

It is owned by JMB with the municipal board to having its office on the second floor of the building.

The building was constructed by JMB with HUDCO loan and was inaugurated in 2002 and provided an opportunity to local youths to open shops on rent from the municipal board.

The shop-keepers, who had gone to open shops following relaxations after Lockdown 3.0 recently found the notices issued by the Executive Officer resorted to a sit-in demonstration in the main entrance to the building for several hours.

The JMB is presently being administered by Assistant Commissioner Aditya Vikram Yadav, in the capacity of Executive Officer, after the term of the previous municipal board administered by elected ward commissioners ended on March 31, 2020.

Smita Bhattacharyya

Smita Bhattacharyya is Northeast Now Correspondent in Jorhat. She can be reached at: triptyaddy@gmail.com