A Congress MP, from Bardoli constituency of Surat, and Union minister of state for road transport and highway, Dr Tushar Chaudhary, sat on indefinite hunger strike, along with his supporters, outside Tapi district collector’s office at Vyara, on Wednesday.
Chaudhary is demanding the suspension of Deputy Superintendent of police of Vyara, B Z Patel, for lathicharge on tribals — including women — who were protesting against the inflated electricity bills.
The Dakshin Gujarat Vij Company Limited (DGVCL) officials had recently slapped electricity bills that allegedly ranged between between Rs 25,000-6,00,000 on some tribals holding BPL cards in Tapi.
Sources said that over 50,000 tribals staying in different villages in Tapi district got power connection at Rs 50 under the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, for the last two years.
The tribals, who were receiving monthly average power bills of DGVCL at Rs 300-500, suddenly got inflated bills of Rs 25,000 to Rs 6 lakh for the month of November and December 2013.
Some tribals lodged a complain with the DGVCL, but after not getting any satisfactory answer, they approached the Congress MP.
On Wednesday afternoon, under the leadership of Dr Tushar Chaudhary, over 20,000 tribals from different villages in Tapi participated in a rally which started from Mission Octroi post to District Collector’s office in Vyara.
During the rally, some participants tried to scale the wall of the District Collector’s building. Deputy Superintendent of police of Vyara, B Z Patel, who was present with his force in plain clothes outside the District Collector’s office, ordered a lathi-charge.
The Executive Engineer of DGVCL in Tapi, Ankur Patel, said, “After giving 50,000 new power connections to the BPL card holders tribals, we have come across complaints of faulty meters.
Till now, we have replaced 33 such meters which have been sent to laboratory for examinations, while over 40 others are yet to be replaced. There might be some fault in these meters and we are trying to get them fixed.”