Where Arvind Kejriwal restored power,they now pay lower bills

The house,which belonged to Bana Ram,was at the epicentre of the 'Bijli Paani Satyagrah'.

Written by Geeta Gupta | New Delhi | Published: December 27, 2013 4:31 am

More than a year before becoming Delhi’s chief minister-designate,Arvind Kejriwal had launched his “civil disobedience” movement from a house in Tigri Colony in South Delhi.

The house,which belonged to Bana Ram,was at the epicentre of the “Bijli Paani Satyagrah” in October 2012 as Kejriwal “restored” the power connection of the family that had been disconnected as it could not pay the “inflated” bill of Rs 15,000.

Ram’s extended family of 25 people — consisting of three brothers and their families — lived on three floors but had one power meter between them. Now they have three separate meters and said each gets a bill of not more than Rs 1,500.

“We always used to get bills of up to Rs 15,000,and we managed to pay on time. We had a common meter for all the three floors. Last year,our power was disconnected because we needed time to pay the bill. We paid the bill anyway,” Ram’s wife Champa said.

Baby,Ram’s daughter,said the only problem they had with the disconnection was that they were not given a notice.

“We had no idea then who Arvind Kejriwal was. A lot of people used to distribute pamphlets with phone numbers,and they mentioned that this man would help us ordinary people,and that we should not be paying the hefty power bills. We just made a call to that number. Two men associated with Kejriwal came to our house the next day and told us that Kejriwal himself would come the next day to restore our power,” she said.

And that next day,October 13,2012,television crew reached the humble Bana Ram household — whose men work as masons — at least an hour before Kejriwal. “He came,he took a stool,climbed up and restored our power connection,” said Dolly,the daughter-in-law.

After that drama,the family still paid the bill that was due.

“We were advised by the power officials to change the meter,and have individual meters on the three different floors. We did that and ever since,the maximum bill we have got is Rs 1,500 for one floor. And believe it or not,the last bill for our first floor was less than Rs 500,” said Dolly.

While the power problem of the family has been addressed,the bigger crisis in the area a year later is that of water,the family said.

Champa has filled at least 10 small drums of water to be used by the family for two days after which she hopes she will get her next supply.

“Kejriwal made a spectacle of us by restoring our power last year,” Champa said. “We even voted for him as he made big promises to give water and cheaper power. We will have to catch him again if he is not able to keep up his promises.”

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