The government order waiving energy dues from April to July 2020 came in response to an appeal from a Bengaluru arts collective.
In June 2020, the Collective of Spaces for Arts and Culture appealed to the government of Karnataka to provide relief from the payment of energy dues by cultural venues across the city. In some cases, the electricity dues would have been in the region of Rs. 25,000 per week, leading to crippling operating costs for an already beleaguered cultural sector.
The official government order, found here in Kannada, is a circular directing the energy department to give relief to for profit and not-for-profit 'Rangamandiras' or auditoriums in the city. An unofficial translation in English is as follows:
File No: Energy/233/PSR/2020-Reforms-Energy-Secretariat
Rules and Regulations of Government of Karnataka
Subject: Relief to not-for-profit and for-profit Rangamandiras in payment of energy dues in order to ease the negative impact of covid lockdown.
1) In order to control the spread of disease of the COVID-19 virus, a lockdown was announced from 23-04-2020 by the Central and State governments and was extended periodically. In order to reduce and control the spread of COVID-19, the Government had imposed several restrictions on public movement and operations of businesses and establishments. Due to these difficulties and extraordinary circumstances, it has come to the notice of the government that energy customers were unable to make the bill payments to the energy companies on time.
2) In order to mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19, the government has already provided some relief and encouragement under:
a) Govt. Order Energy no 128 PSSR 2020 dated 08-05-2020,
b) Govt Order No Energy 133 PSR 2020 dated 25-05-2020 and
c) Govt Order No Energy 172 PSR 2020 dated 22-06-2020
3) Further, the government has decided to provide relief to all not-for-profit and for-profit Rangamandiras from paying energy dues from April 2020 to July 2020. This is an order that directs energy company/board from excusing the above customers from paying their energy dues for the given dates.
Circular No Energy/233/PSR/2020-Reforms-Energy-Secretariat dated 24-07-2020
On the order of the Governor of Karnataka,
And in his name: N Mangalagowri
Under Secretary to Government
Edit: The government order can be taken by a cultural space to their local BESCOM office. The A.E.E in the local office will be responsible for confirming that the energy dues will be adjusted as stated by the government order, for the applicant. This move comes as welcome relief to Bengaluru's cultural spaces. Culture Wire reached out to the Collective about this welcome news; here is what they had to share about the order:
"We were struck with literally zero income to run most of our performance spaces since the second week of March, when the lockdown was announced for the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the spaces had the difficulty of supporting even a skeletal staff during the lockdown. Added to that we were burdened by the electricity and water bills.
So, as a collective, we appealed to the GOK (Government of Karnataka) to waive these service operations bills till the gates of performance spaces are opened for general public. Arundhati Nag and Suma Sudhindra (both members of the Collective) personally met Mr. Yediyurappa, Chief Minister of Karnataka, and submitted the memorandum. Later, after a lot of determined follow-up with the state energy department, the GOK has finally agreed to waive off the electricity bills of all non-profit organisations from April 2020 to July 2020.
Though this does not solve all our problems as these spaces are yet to open even in August, and the forecasted date of opening might be beyond September, we should say something is better than nothing.
We as a collective thank GOK for this waiver and also appeal to extend this waiver till all these cultural spaces are totally opened."
- B. Suresha, President, Suchitra Film Society (Member of the collective)
UPDATE (As of 20 August, 2020) A new government directive states: - A gathering of more than 40 people will not be permitted. - Rehearsals for not more than 15 people at a time in a space that is at least 20' x 20' is permitted.
Culture Wire will continue to follow this developing situation and add updates here.