SUBURBAN SERVICES that started for essential services might also bring respite for close to 10 lakh power consumers of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST).
The BEST is bracing to send out electricity bills based on actual reading for the first time since the lockdown. The undertaking’s power consumers were receiving e-bills until now that were sent on average consumption much like other distributors.
The 300-odd employees, who read meters, have been sent out to take actual readings across Mumbai, except in containment zones as notified by the BMC.
A senior officer from the BEST said with local trains running, it had become easier for staff to access areas and record readings.
When consumers were receiving e-bills based on average consumption, several complained against receiving inflated bills while many others said they had been unfairly penalised for not paying up.
Jayesh Jani, a social worker from Dharavi, has been receiving an average of Rs 1,100 as his monthly bill since March despite his house being locked. Jani was visiting a relative in Borivali when the lockdown began on March 24, and has been staying there since.
“My bill should not have been more than Rs 500 for a small room that was shut, but instead I have paid Rs 2,350, including late penalty, for two months and have a pending bill of Rs 1,100. How will people, already hit by the lockdown, afford this?” asked Jani.
Jani, like several others, is shocked at not only being sent wrong bills but also with added fine amount over non-payment.
In the meanwhile, BEST officials said in case consumers were charged more than their actual electricity consumption, the meter reading pointing out the units consumed, will be on the lower side and the amount already paid will be adjusted in future.
Senior Congress leader and BEST committee member Ravi Raja, however, said it was unfair on the part of the BEST to put any kind of penalty on power bills, including late payment charges. “The BEST administration should instead work out ways to provide relief in bill payment and not impose any late charges at all,” Raja said.
While the BEST has also ensured no power cuts despite non-payment of bills, it is now working out ways to provide relief in bill payment.
Chairman of BEST committee, Anil Patankar recently held a meeting with Mayor Kishori Pednekar, along with officials of the BEST to work out relief measures.
“We are working out ways for payment through easy instalments and some other ways to make it easier for people already hit by the lockdown,” Patankar said. Of the 10 lakh consumers, nearly 7.5 lakh are residential while the remaining 2.5 lakh are commercial or industrial consumers.
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