KATMANDU // In the last year, Nepal's deposed king has lost his throne, his royal palace and annual allowance. Now, he's set to lose his free electricity. The chief of the state-owned utility company said today that former King Gyanendra and his relatives will be forced to pay outstanding electricity bills totalling more than US$1 million (Dh3.6). The former ruler and his relatives have not paid the state-owned Nepal Electricity Authority since he seized absolute power in 2005.
Arjun Karki, chief of the company, said 22 buildings and compounds are covered by the bills. Many are private residences of the ex-king and homes belonging to his daughter, sisters and cousins. Some of the buildings on the list, like the royal palaces, have since been nationalised by the government. The company has given a 15-day deadline for the bills to be paid, Mr Karki said. If they remain unpaid, the electricity will be cut off, he said.
Mr Karki said the electric company has asked the government for help clearing the bills. Gyanendra was forced to give up his authoritarian rule in April 2005 by weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations. Soon after elections in May this year, the new Maoist-dominated Constituent Assembly voted to abolish the monarchy and forced Gyanendra to move out of the royal palace. He has been living in a summer retreat on the hills bordering the capital, Katmandu.
He is expected to move back to his old house where he lived before becoming king in 2001 after his brother's death in a palace massacre. Both of those homes are on the list of places where power will be shut off if the bills are not paid. *AP