AFTER the state power utility Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) served a whopping bill of Rs 14 lakh to a family living in Kalewadi area of Pimpri-Chinchwad, it has exposed the way the power utility functions — drilling loss to its own coffers.
Pandurang Gade’s family living in Kalewadi received a bill of Rs 14 lakh in the month of July. Gade approached MSEDCL, expressing his shock at the huge bill he was served. “We are living in darkness for the past one month as the MSEDCL, which sent us a Rs 14 lakh bill, has severed our power connection,” said Gade, adding that he had approached the MSEDCL but to no avail.
MSEDCL officials, however, refuted the charges and justified the action taken in the matter. The power utility said they had launched a probe into the issue and found that Gade was getting an average bill for power used by him and seven of his tenants. “The meter-reading agency did not do its job properly. For five years, the actual reading was not taken, the bill was served on the basis of average reading. The owner was living there and so were his tenants. It was found that power usage was very high, but they were being billed on a low scale.” said MSEDCL officials. “Generally, average bill is given for three-four months, then corrective action like repairing or replacing the meter is done. But in this case, average billing went on for very long, for five years.”
MSEDCL was in for a rude shock The MSEDCL probe also found that its officials had provided another power connection to Gade after he refused to pay the the earlier bill of Rs 14 lakh. “The name of the consumer is different, but the spot where the power connection has been taken is the same. It was traced to the same consumer,” said MSEDCL officials.
MSEDCL spokesperson Nishakant Raut said the bill of Gade has been corrected to Rs 10 lakh. “Before his power connection was severed, we had given him enough time to pay the bill. Even now, we have told him to pay the bill in installments,” he said.
A senior MSEDCL official said the power utility will take action against the meter-reading agency as it was found that they gave only an average bill to the consumer. “MSEDCL will act against its own officials who gave another connection to the consumer though his earlier connection was severed due to non-payment of bill,” officials said. MSEDCL officials said they are also finding out whether other consumers were also given similar bills.
S Gumatkar, a resident of Kasarwadi, said,”On Thursday, MSEDCL personnel visited several houses and severed their connection if they had not paid their bill of only Rs 1,000. In this case, it was in for a shock when Rs 14 lakh was not billed to the consumer. MSEDCL should set its house in order first, it will find more skeletons in its cupboards.”