Electricity bill shocker to Pune Colonel

In a bizarre case of utmost dereliction of normal working norms by a Government department, a Pune based Colonel, fighting to get regular electricity bills for the past 7 years, was suddenly provided 3 bills for the same period, with a lump sum demanded for the entire period. In addition, the lump sum was different for the 3 different bills, with the even number of units being consumed being different. Now he has to run from pillar to post to try and work this out, with the department being of course least bothered about why this was allowed to happen, and not really caring about helping him out.

In an extraordinary case of billing irregularity by the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL), retired colonel O.P. Verma (65), a resident of Siddharth Complex in Yerwada, was not issued electricity bills from February 2000 to June 2007 despite sending several reminders to the MSEDCL’s Ahmednagar road division office asking them to take meter readings and send regular bills.
In his petition, Verma has urged Gautam to investigate how three different bills of three different amounts were issued to him for the same period and why Rs 4173.79 was charged to him as arrears of interest. “The MSEDCL cannot recover interest from me as the onus of not billing is on them,” he pointed out. He has also quoted section 56(2) of the Electricity Act 2003 which explicitly states that “no sum due from any consumer shall be recoverable after the period of two years from the date when such sum became first due”.

This is a sheer violation of most consumer care norms. A user of a utility such as electricity has a right to get regular accurate bills, and not have to run around for the same. But the greater responsibility is on the service provider to run things in a consumer-oriented manner. This is the reason why we have the concept of independent arbitration such as the ombudsmen in the banking industry. For Government controlled utilities unfortunately, this is not so prevalent, and it really is not a priority for the Government to run them effectively, keeping the interests of the end-user in mind.
This is also the reason why the private sector is more efficient in most cases, given that they will certainly not let such a situation linger for so long. There is a much more effective handling of such issues, and in most cases, if the consumer is not satisfied, there is a method to either escalate the issue, or to take it to a forum like the consumer court.

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