The Madhya Pradesh government has ordered the termination of two electricity department contractual personnel, who confiscated the household items of an elderly woman on Saturday as part of the drive to recover electricity dues.
A video of the incident also went viral on social media in which an elderly woman can be seen running half-naked on the road and pleading with the officials not to take her household items.
The incident took place in Deori tehsil in Sagar district.
“A bill of ₹19,473 was pending against her daughter-in-law Rekha Ahirwar and the officials had gone to recover money,” said a local electricity board official.
The woman alleged that the distribution company officials misbehaved with her and started loading her household items in a tractor even after she told the officials that her son and daughter-in-law were not home.
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On Sunday, Sagar district collector Deepak Arya ordered the ‘termination of contract’ of two employees identified as Vivek Rajak and Manoj Kumar Chadar and suspended two other employees of the power distribution company namely– Devendra Mishra and Shivkumar Sharma.
The action was taken after chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan took cognizance of the video. State energy minister Pradhyuman Singh Tomar said the government was against such high-handedness.
“We had not ordered such type of action to recover electricity dues and have suspended four employees and notice also being served to the senior engineer of that division,” Tomar said in a video message.
Local Congress MLA Harsh Yadav said despite farmers in several parts of the state having lost crops due to hail storms and heavy rains, there is no relaxation from the government recovery officials.
“The crop harvest has still not started and the electricity department has started a bill collection drive. The government should show some mercy to poor people. The Dalit elderly woman’s self-respect has been tarnished in full public view,” he said.
The MP electricity department has started a drive to recover ₹518 crore of pending power bills before the end of the current financial year.
The department is seizing movable assets– motorbikes, water pumps, tractors and even animals from the defaulters across the state.
According to an official, the power supply to villages having several defaulters has been stopped while notices have also been served in newspapers and on social media.
The recovery drive has also faced protests from people in different parts of the state.