Residents at Koramangala slum say that they have been hit with unfairly high electricity bills on a regular basis.
Bengaluru, Sept. 4, 2018: The electricity bills of residents at Lakshman Rao Nagar run in the five figures on a regular basis. Many residents at a slum in Adugodi say that the bills have been regularly high after the installation of meters. This surge in electricity bills has left many residents struggling to make ends meet.
One such resident, Adeem, 32-year old auto driver says that he had received a bill of Rs 14,100 for the month of July. “I only have a bulb of 60 Watts and a fridge. The bulb only remains on between 6 and 10 in the morning, whereas the fridge keeps running throughout the day. I roughly earn around Rs 7,000 to 8,000 a month.”
He said that he borrowed money to pay the bill. “I obtained a loan of Rs 10,000 from relatives to pay the bill “. Adeem is not alone in this predicament. The bill of resident Kumar for the month of July was Rs. 8,674. The 37-year-old says he earns approximately Rs 9,000 a month.
A report published by the Project Advisory Team for Continuing Education for Disadvantaged Adolescents in South Asia’ lists the monthly income of LR Nagar families as between Rs 6,000 to Rs 9,000 a month.
Reported to have a population of 18,000 residents, houses at LR Nagar were converted into apartments by the Karnataka Slum Development Board in 2013. Some residents say that meters have been recently installed at their households, after which there has been a surge in their electricity bill.
As a result, several residents have stopped paying their electricity bill. They say that the response from Karnataka Electricity Board (KEB) officials has been apathetic. “When I ask them why the bills are so high, they say it is the result of my own power consumption. They talk to us in a rude manner. Around eight days ago, I tried to meet the assistant engineer but he wasn’t available at that time”, says Adeem.
“We don’t receive bills regularly, I didn’t receive any bill in June. How can we pay such large amounts? ” said – Shehnaz, another resident.
A significant portion of the bills was listed as arrears. The bill at a house of an elderly woman for the month of July was Rs 9,804, despite claims by neighbors that her house had been locked for four months. The Assistant Executive Engineer at the Bengaluru Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM) Manoj Kumar refused to comment on LR Nagar. “The meter readings are accurate,” he said.
A professor in the Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering at the RV College of Engineering, Jaypal R. said that he is happy with the quality of the meter, calling it ‘tamper proof’. “The meters are digital now. The latest L&T meters come with recording ability where you can see the factual usage. It gives you accurate results”. Speaking on the issue of arrears, he said, “If the previous meter stops, BESCOM would have to install a new meter and collect the pending bills. However, the onus of reporting falls on the consumer.”
Ravindra SG, officer of accounts at BESCOM said, “The electricity bill is prepared on a monthly basis and a 30-day time period is given to consumers to pay them.” With regard to arrears, he said, “The power supply is cut if the bill has not been paid in the 30-day period and then, arrears are collected.” In regard to irregular issuing of bills, he said that there must be some error.