Kathmandu, August 22, 2016:Â Nepal Electricity Authority today disconnected power supply to Mahendra Manjil, the residence of former queen mother Ratna for failing to pay utility bills that have mounted to Rs 3.7 million.
According to Deputy Executive Director of the NEA Gopal Babu Bhattarai, the former queen mother owed NEA Rs 3.7 million. According to NEA sources, the authority has not received any payment for power supply from Ratna since 2008. With the abolition of monarchy, other members left Narayanhiti Palace, but Ratna continues to live in Mahendra Manjil in Narayanhiti Palace Museum.
According to Bhattarai, NEA disconnected electricity to dozens of households, including institutions in Janakpur, Bharatpur and Kathmandu. Yesterday, NEA had cut power to 80 households and institutions in the far-western region.
NEAâ€™s action against the erring households comes on the heels of new Energy Minister Janardan Sharmaâ€™s instruction to disconnect power supply to those households which fail to pay utility bills on time.
Bhattarai said NEA had been taking action against erring households and institutions for the last few months and it intensified its drive after the energy ministerâ€™s instruction.
According to Bhattarai, NEA needs to collect almost Rs 9 billion dues, a large chunk of which is owed by municipalities for street lights.
Former queen motherâ€™s Personal Secretary Shambhu Adhikari said the staff of Mahendra Manjil had been submitting the utility bills to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, which was supposed to pay the bills. Adhikari claimed that when Leela Mani Paudyal was chief secretary Paudyal had told him that the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation would pay the utility bills.
He said the government should either treat Mahendra Manjil as Ratnaâ€™s personal property or it should payÂ Â electricity, water and telephone bills.
Former king Gyanendra Shahâ€™s Press Secretary Phani Raj Pathak said former home minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula had assured the former king in 2008 that former queen mother could live at Mahendra Manjil and as per that agreement the government would pay all the utility bills. As per the rules, the NEA can disconnect power supply to customers if they fail to pay bills within 60 days.