10% KSEB revenue for ex-employees

Kochi: The Kerala High Court has directed the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) to set apart a 10 per cent of its total revenue every month solely for the payment of retirement benefits to its employees.

That amount shall not be used for any other purpose, nor shall it be diverted, the court ruled. "The amount should be disbursed towards payment of retirement benefits in the order of priority determined on the basis of the date of retirement. If several persons have retired on the same date, the persons in the lower ranks should be paid first in preference to persons in the higher rank."

KSEBs chief accountant and financial officer would be responsible for the adherence to these directions, the court maintained, and if any violation is pointed out he will be proceeded against. Justice K A Abdul Gafoor issued these directions while disposing of a writ petition filed by P J Mathew of Amalagiri, Kottayam, who had retired from KSEB in February 2001, but was denied retirement benefits. The reason stated by the board for not disbursing the amounts due to him was paucity of funds.

The board claims it is incurring an annual debt of Rs 1,935 crore. It is supplying free electricity to those who consume less than 20 units per month; it is also distributing energy at subsidised rates to various weaker sections like farmers, hospitals, certain government establishments and for public electrification, all of which result in a financial burden.

The government also owes a substantial amount to KSEB by way of reimbursements or subsidies. The board says it does not have sufficient funds to meet the liabilities in respect of retired employees. "Hence retirement benefits are being disbursed on a priority basis, depending on the date of retirement."