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Power bills for low consumption up by 50 per cent: BSES chief

With many consumers outraged over what they claim are abnormally high electricity bills,power distribution company (discom) BSES has now compiled statistics,,,

With many consumers outraged over what they claim are abnormally high electricity bills,power distribution company (discom) BSES has now compiled statistics to show that withdrawal of government subsidy has affected the economically weaker sections more than the upper-middle class.

According to BSES Chief Executive Officer Arun Kanchan,the discom has found that power bills for consumers from economically weaker sections have risen by “over 50 per cent” since the government subsidies were withdrawn on May 31. Moreover,consumption of power by middle class and upper middle class consumers in BSES areas has increased by nearly 35% since previous summers. Their bills in turn have increased between 11 and 50 per cent.

Giving an instance of a lower middle class household,Kanchan said if a consumer used 350 units in two months,his bill for two months would have been Rs 420 when the subsidies were effective. “With both subsidies lapsing on May 31,his bill is now Rs 857.50,” he added.

Till May 31,the government gave subsidy provided two subsidies – one was for all domestic consumers wherein they recieved a 10% reduction on their total bill. The other was a targetted subsidy for consumers from the economicallyw eaker sections wherein they got a subsidy of Rs. 1 per unit if they limited their consumption to 150 units in non-peak months and 200 units in peak months.

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The Cabinet has already approved the continuation of “targeted subsidy” for those who consume less power,but it is yet to be notified. Without subsidy,consumers are charged up to Rs 3.95 per unit. A statement issued by the government says that the targeted subsidy will be applicable retrospectively from the next billing cycle. Kanchan said,“The targeted subsidy will be calculated from June 1 and consumers who qualify will receive a refund of the extra amount (charged in subsequent bills).”

Reacting to complaints by many consumers that power bills in the last two months have been abnormally high,Kanchan said studies by BSES shows power consumption in middle class and upper middle class households has risen “nearly 35 per cent” from last summer. In areas under BSES Rajdhani,“where consumers are largely from upper middle class households,we have seen phenomenal growth in consumption”,Kanchan said. But Deepti Trehan Janakpuri resident said many consumers would question the statistics dished out by BSES. “I cannot understand all the technical reasons being given every day,” she said. “I have had to pay more than Rs 7,600 this month and my bill has never been that high. Both I and my husband work,so I don’t know how our consumption can suddenly be so high.” Trehan said her average bills for summers have always been between Rs 4,500 and Rs 5,500.

Meanwhile,Kanchan said 62,000 consumers billed low amounts in July have been sent a communication: they will have to pay more this month. He said the low bills were the result of an error: “International norms allow for a 3-per cent error rate in billing. We are well within that limit.”

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High consumption
Kanchan said that in NDPL areas,consumption has risen by over 70 per cent for 20 per cent of the consumers. An NDPL official could not confirm the statistics,however he did say,“Consumption has certainly risen phenomenally due to the extreme weather conditions this summer. The fact that we provided uninterrupted power supply has also led to an increase in consumption patterns since last summer.”

First published on: 08-09-2009 at 12:15:07 am
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