Shillong: National Spokesperson of the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), Saket S Gokhale has written to Prestone Tynsong, Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister regarding the “criminal practise” of denial of electricity to entire villages due to a few “defaulters”.

In the letter, Gokhale said that in his current Meghalaya visit he was apprised of a shocking and inhuman tactic employed by the state government and the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd (MeECL) against poor villagers.

“Numerous reports and first-hand accounts have said that MeECL shuts down electricity to an entire village when a few villagers are late in paying their power bills. Even when the majority of villagers have paid their bills, the main electricity transformer to the village is shut down on the grounds that a handful of villagers have not made payments”, he wrote.

Gokhale said that this is not only atrocious but also a criminal act of collectively punishing an entire village for the defaults of a few households. 

“Neither the Govt of Meghalaya nor the MeECL has any right to deny electricity to villagers who have been making timely payments of their bills”, the letter added.

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He in the letter mentioned some examples of this “criminal act” by the MeECL.

He he added that first, the villages of Rari and Kosi Chora in Bajengdoba in North Garo Hills have had their transformer and electricity supply disconnected for two months only because some villagers have not paid their bills.

“This week, transformer and electricity supply was disconnected for Dingrepa and Matchu Ki villages over the same frivolous reason that a few villagers have not paid bills Let me remind you that under Indian law and our Constitution, there is no provision for medieval practices like collective punishment. In fact, Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees life and liberty to every person”, the point added.

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He added that denying electricity for months to villagers who have made timely payments of their electricity bills is a gross infringement on their right to life. Moreover, by punishing villagers who have paid their bills on time, the Govt of Meghalaya is seriously violating the laws of the land and is jeopardizing the lives of many residents of Meghalaya, his letter added.

“You are, therefore, requested to look into this matter immediately and restore supply in ALL villages of Meghalaya where the transformers to entire villages have been disconnected merely because of default in bill payment by a few”, he added.

He further requested the DyCM to initiate immediate action against MeECL officials who have been indulging in this “criminal practise of blackmail, coercion, and intimidation” by shutting off transformers in villages.

He lastly said that if actions are not taken immediately and the situation is not rectified, the Meghalaya Government and MeECL will be made respondents in petitions at the appropriate judicial forums including the Hon’ble High Court of Meghalaya.

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