Hostellers fear dark days at Ariyalur Medical College, PWD pass buck on Rs 30 lakh power dues

The student count since then has swelled to accommodate three batches, of which about 430 avail of the separate hostels for males and females on campus.
A view of Ariyalur Medical College Hospital | Express
A view of Ariyalur Medical College Hospital | Express

ARIYALUR:  About 430 students of Government Ariyalur Medical College Hospital residing in the two hostels on campus risk disconnection of power supply owing to a tussle between the Public Works Department (PWD) and the medical institution over the settlement of dues, running to over Rs 30 lakh, to Tangedco. Construction of the medical institution, which commenced in July 2020 at a cost of Rs 347 crore, was about 90% complete when the National Medical Commission (NMC) accorded permission for the medical college to commence classes from the academic year 2021-22 with an intake of 150.

The student count since then has swelled to accommodate three batches, of which about 430 avail of the separate hostels for males and females on campus. The PWD, which undertook the construction of the medical institution, failing to apply for changing the Low Tension Construction Tariff (LTCT) power category to Low Tension (LT) upon completion of the hostels has left the latter to continue to be charged under the LTCT category.

This has left the medical college with outstanding power dues of over Rs 30 lakh, Dean Dr A Muthukrishnan said. The LTCT category is applicable for temporary supply for construction activities. “The PWD should have disconnected the LTCT connection for the hostels immediately upon completion of construction work, applied for an LT connection with Tangedco and then handed the buildings over to us properly.

Without doing this they are delaying handing over the buildings to us. How can we pay the power dues accrued in between?" the dean asked. Meanwhile, PWD (Electrical) Executive Engineer S Anbazhagan said, "We formally handed over the hospital after construction. If the hospital occupies the buildings, its administration will have to bear the electricity bill incurred thereafter.

No payment will be made by the contractor." “Before commencing the hospital’s construction, we asked Tangedco for LT connection to the hostels. It, however, did not do so," he added. When enquired, a senior Tangedco (Ariyalur) official said, "As per rule, we can provide only one service connection per campus. The hostels' connections are still under construction tariff (LTCT). On payment of dues we will properly switch the hostels’ connection to HT (High Tension).

Otherwise, the existing connection is likely to be disconnected." It may be noted that the hospital is being charged under HT power category. Meanwhile, Dr Muthukrishnan said the two hostels running on HT tariff would affect the hostellers as the power bill will be high. While an LT connection is charged Rs 8.15/unit, an LTCT connection is charged Rs 12.25/unit.

To this, the Tangedco official said, "The hospital has placed a request with the government through the district collector seeking LT connection for its hostels. Action will be taken if the government approves." When contacted, Health Minister Ma Subramanian told TNIE, "I will ask the hospital dean and the PWD to discuss the matter and have it taken up with the collector. The collector will then check who has to pay the power dues. Also, the hostels can definitely change to LT connection if required."

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