TOI recently reported that consumers can expect higher bills in June as they would be based on “actual meter readings” for the past three summer months. Meter readings were suspended during the lockdown. But many consumers alleged that post-reading calculations in the June bill were “inaccurate” and “abnormally high”.
Consumers who complained include those from MSEDCL supply areas in parts of Mumbai, Thane, and Navi Mumbai, as well as customers of Adani Electricity and Tata Power in Mumbai. BEST is reportedly yet to distribute its June bills in the island city.
Leader of the opposition in the state assembly Devendra Fadnavis, in a letter to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, has pointed out that owing to the lockdown, consumers have been excessively billed by electricity distribution companies. “On account of the lockdown, taking metre readings was not possible for these companies. They have charged hugely and demanded payments for three months in a single month. Many people have lost their jobs or are facing pay cuts. In such a situation, they are unable to pay the amount at once,” he said, asking Thackeray to correct the “anomalies”.
“My average power consumption always comes to between Rs 1,600 and Rs 1,800 per month. My summer bills vary from Rs 2,700 to Rs 3,200. This has been the pattern for years. Even if we consider a jump, it cannot be for Rs 16,000—the amount which I was billed for June. This is supposed to be a calculation for three months, but is almost equivalent to my bill for 10 months,” said Sibi Sathyan, a resident of Navi Mumbai.
Frustrated consumers gathered outside power firm offices to protest on Monday. “Several citizens also made WhatsApp groups such as ‘Kamothe Electricity Bill’ to bring aggrieved citizens from Panvel, Kamothe and Kharghar on a common platform,” said D K Roy, a resident of Pride Paradise, Kamothe. His bill was nearly four times the usual amount.
MSEDCL chief spokesperson Anil Kamble said that meter readers were finally going to residential sites and collecting actual readings. “This will take into account consumption for March-May, for which one has been billed less as there was no meter reading and it was the average based on winter months. But now the bill will be higher,” he said.
A Tata Power official said, “For the period of 91 days for which the bills are being sent out, the family remained inside home for all 24 hrs. Tata Power would like the consumers to look for such lifestyle changes while reflecting over the last three months of lockdown and compare it with lifestyle pre lockdown or last year’s same months.
Adani Electricity’s spokesperson said, “Actual consumption in the months of April, May and June is comparatively higher due to seasonal impact (summer) and increased usage (advent of lockdown/work from home). Now the consumers will start receiving bills based on their actual consumption with appropriate tariff slab benefits.”
In the past, politicians from national parties have represented consumers for inflated bills in Mumbai, and sources indicated that a few political representatives met a group of consumers on Monday. Social media too was abuzz with complaints against Adani and Tata Power. “Devendra Soni has received a bill of Rs 19,498 for May & June 2020 which is too much of the average amount we have been receiving before this pandemic and over the years @CMOMaharashtra @TataPower,” read a tweet from the handle @Nikita47967353. A tweet from daksh @sunshinezoned stated: “Adani Electricity, its an overcharged bill of Rs 4,140 for June 2020. I cleared the dues for May yet the number of units and average reading is a lot more than I usually get billed for.”