Amid power woes, Andhra ministers run up huge bills
Even as chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy preaches power saving to outage ravaged people across the state, ministers and state-supported VIPs are running up monthly electricity bills of several thousand rupees, paid entirely by the Roads and Buildings (R&B) Department.
Galla Aruna tops the list of cabinet ministers toting up huge power bills, with Rs 62,657 in July.
Opposition leader Chandrababu Naidu - whose bill is paid by the government - is no slouch either: his Jubilee Hills residence ran up a bill of Rs 84,352 in July.
The chief minister’s camp office at Begumpet costs the exchequer even more: its monthly power bills are in the region of Rs 1 lakh.
Ministers Mukesh Goud, D K Aruna and Danam Nagender all burnt midnight oil to the tune of Rs 15,000 or more (see graphic).
The chief minister advised people not to use air-conditioners but his ministers have apparently not heard him.
All of them flout a rule not to have more than two ACs in their official residences.
One senior minister has no less than 12. Another enjoys six.
Roads & Buildings officials say the two-AC limit was fixed in the late 1950s and should be revised to four, considering the fact that most ministers now have three-bedroom houses with an office.
“But a dozen ACs? Nothing but a waste of public money,” fumed an R&B official.
Whenever a minister has sought permission to install additional ACs at his residence, R&B staff do remind the government about the two AC rule. But the government always vetoes the objection.
Whatever the excess, it is the people who pay for it. One minister, a big industrialist, constructed a sprawling house that clocks up a large power bill - paid by the people.
Some ministers have multiple power connections - again paid by the people.
“The government should fix a maximum limit for power consumption by ministers. If the government fixes Rs 20,000 per month, any bill above that should be borne by the minister,” an R&B official said.
The suggestion has been sent to the government recently. However, no action has been taken.