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Friday, September 25, 2020

Mumbai: Interest rates on 3-month EMIs to add to power consumers’ woes

The 50 lakh power consumers in Mumbai, who are supplied power by Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking, Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited and Tata Power will have to cough-up up to 14 per cent interest on their instalments

Written by Iram Siddique | Mumbai | July 10, 2020 3:52:50 am
tapsee pannu, arshad warsi, mumbai electricity bills, best electric supply, AMEL elctricity bills, mumbai high elctricity bills, indian express news The provision to pay bills in three instalments was rolled out by the government after consumers complained of inflated bills being sent for June. (Representational)

There seems to be no respite in sight for consumers, who are dealing with high power bills. The high interest rates, put out by power utility firms on the three-month EMI scheme enabling consumers to pay off their high electricity bills at ease, are set to burden them further.

The 50 lakh power consumers in Mumbai, who are supplied power by Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking, Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited and Tata Power will have to cough-up up to 14 per cent interest on their instalments. Only government-owned Mahavitran Ltd has waived off interest on EMIs for its 2.4 crore consumers, if paid on due dates.

The provision to pay bills in three instalments was rolled out by the government after consumers complained of inflated bills being sent for June.

The 10 lakh power consumers of BEST will have to pay up an interest rate of 12-14 per cent while Tata Power, which supplies power to seven lakh, is yet to come out with its interest rates.

While Adani Mumbai Electricity Limited (AMEL) had announced an interest rate of 9.9 percent, however, in a late development, it waived off the interest on Thursday. The interest rate was to be distributed over the three months of installment for consumers opting for the EMI scheme.

The designated representative of power consumers at Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission and a power expert, Ashok Pendse said, “It is not a consumer’s fault that they live in Mumbai and thereby have to pay up to 12-14 per cent interest rates while those outside Mumbai, users of Mahavitran Ltd, are exempted from it. Mumbai consumers are unfairly treated and the government should give them some concessions.”

While Pendse opposed the high interest rates, he however said the power bills sent out by the four utility providers to the 2.9 crore consumers across the state were correct and fair. Several consumers, including actors Taapsee Pannu and Arshad Warsi, had taken to social media to voice against the high bills. Pannu while tagging AMEL had shared her power bill, saying it was nearly 10 times higher.

The high bills that consumers got was because of two reasons. The bills that consumers got in April, May and June were based on their average consumption of the three preceding months of December, January, February. The amount that was charged for March, April, May was in a majority of cases lower than the actual consumption as power companies were not able to physically note meter readings due to the lockdown. However, in June when the meter readings were physically noted, residents were billed for their actual consumption and all units consumed from March were added to the June bill, leading to a massive spike in the amounts charged.

The average household power consumption in the three months was very high compared to last year as people spent the bulk of their time inside their homes due to the lockdown. In Mumbai, during the lockdown, the average daily consumption of electricity went up by at least 600 megawatts between 11 pm and 4 am. “It shows that people used ACs and coolers in the night,” said Pendse.

Meanwhile, activist Pratap Hogade, president of the State Power Consumer’s Association, said they demanded the waiver of the three months electricity bills of nearly 50 lakh residents who consumed up to 300 units per month across the state. Activists have called for a statewide protest on Monday, when they will be burning the power bills as a sign of protest and submit their memorandum across 20 districts in the state.

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