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Power bills reach late,consumers pay for delay

The MSEDCL has around nine lakh consumers and the seemingly innocuous Rs 10-20 dues add up to a tidy amount each month.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
June 6, 2009 4:02:59 am

* Deepak Sonawane from Bhavani Peth shrugs helplessly as he waits in the queue at the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) cash collection centre at Rasta Peth. “This is not the first time I am getting the bill after the due date and end up paying Rs 10 extra,” he says.
* Suresh Malik,a resident of Koregaon Park,had to pay Rs 1,180 instead of Rs 1,170 this month. “I check my letter box in the society every day but do not get the bill on time,” says Malik.
* For Geeta Mehta,staying at NIBM,this is the second time on trot she has received her MSEDCL bill after the due date for payment. “The date for payment without fine for my bill of Rs 2,050 was May 16 and I got the bill on that day. I was forced to pay Rs 2,070.”

The MSEDCL has around nine lakh consumers and the seemingly innocuous Rs 10-20 dues add up to a tidy amount each month. Though there are others who get their bills two-three days before the due date,even that is not enough as the rulebook says the utility bill should be sent to the consumer way in advance.

“There were several complaints earlier but we have streamlined the system. There are some areas like Nagar Road where there is still a delay in issuing bills to consumers,” said S P Nagtilak,chief engineer of the Pune division of the utility. He points out that anti-power theft drives,penalising billing distribution agencies,disconnecting meters and follow-up of consumers’ complaints have helped MSEDCL to earn a record revenue of Rs 456 crore in May. “We have reached nine lakh consumers and now the target is to ensure timely distribution of bills.”

According to Vivek Velankar,president of Sajag Grahak Manch,there should be a gap of 21 days between the bill date and the pay-by date. “The MSEDCL also offers one per cent discount if the consumer pays within seven days of the bill date. However,the reality is that the consumer receives the bill just two days prior to the pay-by date instead of 19 days when he can pay the bill and claim the discount,too.”

Officials at the St Mary’s sub division under the Rasta Peth division have their explanation — that the change in the billing software from Cobalt to Oracle in September last year had delayed the printing of bills. “The bills are made at the sub-divisional level where meter recordings are taken and then sent to the IT department. It takes another two days for the bill to be printed and then sent back to the sub division officers for validation. We try to ensure that the consumers get the bill at least a fortnight before the due date,” a zonal officer said.

After validation and sorting,the bills are given to the distribution agencies. In fact,the agents have been warned of penalties in case the consumer does not receive the bill within the pay-by date.

…what they have to say

* Log on to to view the bills online.

* 8 cash collection counters,instead of 2,at Rasta Peth.

* 120 charitable trusts and cooperative societies enlisted as cash collection agencies.

* 10 ATMs and 28 department bill acceptance counters.

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