The government has decided not to impose fine on consumers who are unable to pay their electricity bills on time as a part of its relief package amid the threat of coronavirus outbreak.

The date for clearing electricity bills has been extended indefinitely to prevent consumers from crowding Nepal Electricity Authority’s counters to pay their bills.

“I request all customers to pay electricity bills online. But if they cannot, we will not levy any fine and will not halt power supply to their homes,” Minister of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barshaman Pun said.

The decision was taken today by a meeting chaired by Minister Pun, chairperson of the board of directors of Nepal Electricity Authority. The decision came into effect today.

The risk of coronavirus infection is high when payment counters are crowded, said the minister.

During a high-level meeting held today under the chairmanship of Pun, it was also decided that all the staffers of the ministry’s line agencies, such as NEA, the Department of Electricity Development, Department of Hydrology and Meteorology and Department of Irrigation would have to report for duty.

According to Kul Man Ghising, Managing Director of NEA, all staffers of NEA would be on duty to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply to every household.

The meeting also decided to take extra measures to keep the staffers of ‘no light’ section and load dispatch centre of the NEA safe until the situation gets normal.

Ghising said the decision was taken considering the potential risks of service disruptions if the staffers of ‘no light’ section and load dispatch centre contract the coronavirus disease.

“As the two divisions have only limited core technical staff, we took the decision to keep them in a separate and safer place to minimise the chances of them contracting the disease,” said Ghising, adding that arrangements have been made to keep the two offices in isolation.