By Bikash Sangraula
The royal family and royal relatives have continued to default on payment of bills to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), although NEA has regularly dispatched cumulative bills during nearly two-and-a-half years of non-payment to the palace and other residences of the royals in the capital and outside. According to NEA records, the royals owe NEA over Rs 36 million in electricity bills for residences in the capital as of June 14, 2007.
The royals stopped paying after King Gyanendra’s February 1 takeover and haven’t resumed payment so far. On the other hand, the government, despite vehement protests in and outside the parliament, allocated Rs 24.5 million as allowance to the royal family in the recently announced budget. Topping the list of defaulters of electricity bills as of June 14 is the Narayanhiti palace with a whopping Rs 26.37 million in electricity dues, which is followed by Nirmal Niwas with Rs 2.73 million.
Royal relatives with hefty unpaid electricity bills include late Dhirendra Shah’s three daughters – Shitasma Rajya Laxmi Rana with Rs 909,215, Pooja Rajya Laxmi Shah with Rs 522,226 and Dilasha Rajya Laxmi Rana with Rs 486,000. Similarly, King Gyanendra’s sister Shobha Rajya Laxmi Shahi owes Rs 905,000 to NEA, while Dhirendra’s wife late Prekshya Shah owes a total of Rs 792,989 under four separate accounts to her name.
Additionally, there are four other accounts related to the palace at NEA, which also have been defaulting on payment. The King’s Expenses Department owes Rs 90,209, the King’s Purano Janchbujh Kendra Bhawan owes Rs 73,800, the Herchaha Adda, Hanuman-dhoka owes Rs 41,978, and the Narayanhiti Expenses Adda owes Rs 149,652.
Fresh data for Chaunni Durbar, which had Rs 1.5 million in dues till January 2007, was not available due to technical problems at NEA’s revenue collection centers. Other accounts, whose data was also available for only till January this year are King Gyanendra’s aunt Helen Shah with Rs 551,000 in electricity dues, Bharati Rajya Laxmi Singh with Rs 256,000, and Helen Shah’s daughter Jyotsana Rajya Laxmi Devi Basnet with Rs 477,000.
The royals also own residences outside Kathmandu Valley, such as Ratna Mandir in Pokhara and Diyalo bungalow in Bharatpur, which also stopped paying utility bills after King Gyanendra’s bloodless coup.
Royals’ electricity dues
(Till June 14, 2007)
1. Narayanhiti palace – Rs 26.37 million
2. Nirmal Niwas – Rs 2.73 million
3. Shitasma Rajya Laxmi Rana – Rs 909,215
4. Shobha Rajya Laxmi Shahi – Rs 905,000
5. Prekshya Shah – Rs 792,989 (in four accounts)
6. Pooja Rajya Laxmi Shah – Rs 522,226
7. Dilashsa Rajya Laxmi Rana – Rs 486,000
8. King’s Expenses Department – Rs 90, 209
9. King’s Purano Janchbujh Kendra Bhawan – Rs 73,800
10. Herchaha Adda, Hanumandhoka – Rs 41,978
11. Narayanhiti Expenses Adda – Rs 1,49,652
(Till Jan 2007)
12. Chaunni – Rs 1.5 million
13. Helen Shah – Rs 551,000
14. Bharati Rajya Laxmi Singh – Rs 256,000
14. Jyotsana – Rs 477,000
Total: Rs 36 million