BSNL notices to defaulters – Telecom major tells hill customers to clear dues in 15 days or face property attachment
BSNL is now sending legal notices to customers who haven’t paid phone bills. With threats to recover the dues by attaching customers’ properties.
The bills have remained unpaid due to the non-co-operation movement by GJM from April 2008.
From The Telegraph
Darjeeling, April 30: BSNL has started sending legal notices to customers who have defaulted on the payment of phone bills in the Darjeeling hills, threatening to attach their properties if the dues are not cleared in 15 days.
The phone dues of the hill residents have touched the Rs 10 crore mark as they refused to pay telephone and electricity bills and taxes as part of the non-co-operation movement by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha from April 2008 till July 2011.
The movement was launched to seek the formation of the separate Gorkhaland state.
The move by BSNL has created panic among the people, many of whom have run up dues to the tune of Rs 1 lakh.
The notice — a copy of which is with The Telegraph — issued by N.N. Dutta, a BSNL advocate based in Siliguri, clearly states that the dues have to be cleared within 15 days of receiving the notice.
“In view of the above circumstances, I call upon you for making payment…..along with interest to my client within 15 days from the date of receiving of this notice failing which my client shall take legal action against you to attach your properties for recovery of the same, without any further reference and you shall be held liable and responsible for all cost and expenses which may be incurred by my client…,” reads the notice.
Although the hill people didn’t pay for power consumption for more than three years and ran up bills of Rs 72 crore, they haven’t yet been asked to clear the dues.
The electricity department is only charging for the power consumed from August 2011, a month after the Memorandum of Agreement had been signed by the Central and state governments and the Morcha for the formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.
Most of the landline connections have already been disconnected because of the non-payment.
While the Morcha had said it would do everything to ensure that the dues were waived, the central and state governments haven’t made any commitment.
A. Dakua, a general manager of the BSNL, said the notices were being issued according to the rules. “Cases (of non-payment of bills) are reviewed every six month and notices are sent accordingly. We are ready to help our customers who may not be in a position to clear the entire amount at one go. We can ask them to pay in installments.”
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said the party was in touch with both the state and the Centre to settle the issue. “The hill people will not be inconvenienced as the non-payment of bills was part of our agitation.”
Anil Verma, the administrator of the DGHC, said the state was in touch with the Centre.
“The issue is under the active consideration of the telecommunication and home ministries. Efforts are on to find out a solution to this problem. I have had a meeting in this regard recently.”