Inflated electricity bills are extortion, organised loot: Congress

Hyderabad, June 7: The Congress party has strongly condemned the Telangana Government for the electricity bills served to the consumers this month and described them as erratic, inflated, extortion and organised loot.

Addressing a press conference at Gandhi Bhavan on Sunday, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) Spokesperson Syed Nizamuddin said that all the domestic consumers got huge electricity bills this month, primarily due to the erroneous calculation of units by the Telangana State Southern Power Distribution Company Limited (TSSPDCL). He said people who used to pay Rs. 700-800 per month got bills of over Rs. 10,000 this month. The bills clearly mention that the billing was done for a period of 90 days.

Nizamuddin pointed out that of 95 lakh power consumers in Telangana, nearly 75 lakh were domestic and 80% of them consume below 200 units per month. They are primarily divided in three categories based on their consumption. While 0-100 units fall in Category-1; 100-200 units are in Category II and 200 units and above fall into Category – III. The tariff per unit is based on consumption and Telangana State Electricity Regulatory Commission (TSERC) has approved the tariff for monthly basis. However, in violation of TSERC guidelines, the TSSPDCL has generated bills based on overall consumption done in 90 days.

For instance, a person consuming 199 units per month will get a bill of about Rs. 900 at the rate of Rs. 4.3 per unit. Therefore, the overall amount for three months should not exceed Rs. 2,700. But if units are calculated for 90 days at once, then the consumer will have to pay Rs. 5,373 for (199 x 3 = 597 units) at the rate of Rs. 9 per unit, which is more than double. However, he said that calculations were done so erroneously that the majority of consumers got bills which are more than triple than the average. Further, he said since everyone was at home due to lockdown, the consumption was comparatively high compared to normal time.

The Congress leader said that there were nine slabs in the domestic category – up to 100 units and third slab of over 200 units. Since, meter reading for three months was done at once almost all consumers entered over 200 units slab. “After ruining the economy through unplanned total lockdown for over 60 days, TRS Govt has now entered into ‘Extortion’ mode. Exactly the way we get ransom calls from kidnappers, the TSSPDCL has officially sent electricity bills asking people to pay huge amounts. If they fail, they face the threat of disconnection of power supply. This is nothing but ‘organised loot’ by the TRS Government,” he said.

“Lakhs of people lost their jobs during lockdown and many faced salary-cuts. All the savings got exhausted during the lockdown period. Instead of waiving off the electricity bills for the lockdown period, TRS Govt is extorting money from people through cheating,” he said.

Nizamuddin demanded that all the electricity bills served so far should be called off and fresh bills be generated by rectifying the mistakes. “Genuine billing will automatically reduce the amount by more than one-third which should be paid by the State Government as subsidy. Relaxations in lockdown were given from June 1. Therefore, people might be able to make payments from July onwards after they get their salaries in the first or second week of July. Therefore, people should be charged for electricity only from the month of June and not for the lockdown period,” he demanded.

“This is a serious issue which needs immediate attention of the Chief Minister and Energy Minister. If no solution is announced within two days, then the Congress party will hold a massive protest and this time it is going to be a very serious protest,” the Congress leader said.

Nizamuddin also alleged that the TRS Government was burdening the people by collecting huge fines from common people either in the name of traffic challans, not wearing masks and spitting in public. While it is essential to inculcate discipline among people, their mistakes should not be used as tools to extort money from them, he said.

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