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Representtional image
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Mumbai: Common man is not just suffering from Coronavirus induced pandemic but also grieving over the hefty electricity bills they are receiving from various distribution companies (discoms) like Tata Power, MSEB, Torrent, BEST, Adani Electricity etc in June.

People who have received high power bills are stunned and believe they have been charged wrongly. Many also stated that despite lockdown their consumption has been similar to the previous month or what was earlier consumed in summer. Swagat Lakku, consumer of discom Torrent, a franchise of MSEB in Kalwa Mumbra, has received a power bill of Rs 13,000 for the last three months.

He explained, "Electric consumption in my 2BHK is the same and lockdown need not be a reason for extra consumption as I do not work consistently on my laptop in my work-from-home routine. A bill of Rs 13,000 is a real electric shock for me, as I usually get a bill of Rs 800/per month which fluctuates between Rs 1800 and Rs 2,000 in summers. A collective bill of Rs 7,000 is something that I had anticipated, but Rs 13,000 is almost double and completely unfair.” Lakku asserted that he will reach out to the power supplier and ask them to check if there has been a metre tampering or re-evaluate the bill amount.

Similar grievances were expressed by Deepali Kanojia, an MSEB consumer and a resident of Kalyan, who said, "My usual bill of Rs 700 was multiplied almost six times and charged Rs 4,600 for three months. All my dues are cleared and the average is not applicable to me, so they should ideally adjust the amount and charge me correctly.”

MSEB Chief Public Relation Official Anil Kamble commented, "Due to lockdown, consumers were asked to avail facility of self metre reading, which was sadly availed by only 2.60 lakh customers of a total 2.70 crore customers across the state. They just had to click a picture of the metre and upload it on website or app, which they failed to do and hence received an average bill of the previous three months (December, January and February), which are winter months, for consumption in March, April, May (summer months), which was relatively low and an average bill sent was undercharged. Now in June, the uncharged amount is added in June month's bill, which they think is high. However, we are addressing the issues."

Likewise, Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML) consumer Olive Lopez, a resident of Bhayander, has received Rs14,287 bill in which Rs 8,160 showing as the outstanding amount. However, the consumer has told that she has regularly paid bills in February, March, April and May and she has no arrears.

AEML’s official commented, "We have re-started physical meter reading which was temporarily halted since March because of Covid-19. Bills were generated on lower side being an average of preceding three months i.e. Dec, Jan & Feb, which are winter months. Actual consumption in the months of Apr, May & June is comparatively higher due to seasonal impact (summer) and increased usage (the advent of lockdown/work from home). Now the consumers will start receiving the bills based on their actual consumption with appropriate tariff slab benefits. The bill amount for the past period shall be accounted for as per MERC guidelines."

Meanwhile Energy expert Ashok Pendse, who is also a MERC-approved consumer representative, said, "As people were confined in their homes due to lockdown the electricity consumption increased. Many used gadgets for WFH and used ACs in summer. There has been no mismanagement from discoms, but the consumers are baffled due to the average bill and addition of uncharged amount for three months. I suggest consumers should be given an equated monthly installment (EMI) provision to pay the big amount of bills."

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