India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, via the Saubhagya scheme, has assured the nation that every Indian household will have a free power connection by December 2018. However, the bills for the power consumed will have to be paid by the consumers on a monthly basis.
This is a significant move and makes the consumers at the grassroots level want to upgrade to electricity from kerosene, dung cakes (uple), and wood fires.
Now the question arises, do we have enough power generation capacity to cater to our huge population? No! Like other countries, we have to tap alternative energy sources like wind, solar and hydro-electricity.
Secondly, our country needs to upgrade our existing generation capacity and streamline our distribution network.
This can be done by changing the mindset of power sector employees who have their own interests, and stick to casual attitudes towards the consumers. Otherwise, it will remain a pipe dream.
Here is a glaring example of how the employees of the power corporations in the country function, and make the consumers run from pillar to post to get their problems sorted out.
I am a resident of Satya Nagar in Rae Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. I got a house built one-and-a-half years ago. We are a family of three, and got a 1KW connection (bearing no 3560732421). Our house has an LED bulb, low voltage fans, a TV, etc. The electricity bills till date were as per our power load, and we paid our bills.
However, during the last two months, bills have suddenly started coming in at six-folds of the regular costs, which is unacceptable. We got oral and written complaints registered at the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited’s office at Madhuban Market. Seeing the indifferent attitude of the staff, we posted our complaints to the higher officials and public hearing portals to redress our problem (Complaint no. 40015817003704). In response to our complaint, the present SDO Sh Amit Srivastava, on September 26, 2017, called me from his cell on mine, and asked me to contact Mr Santosh Tripathi at Madhuban Office to get a check meter installed by paying the due fee.
On September 27, 2017, I, accompanied by my friend, visited the local office. The SDO was not available, and Mr Tripathi insisted that either I should agree that I had not visited the office earlier, or write a fresh application regarding the connection. We refused and returned in the hope that we could meet the SDO for further action.
On checking the status of my complaint on the portal the same day, I was surprised to find that it showed that a check meter (no RDC 30830) had been installed on September 21. It showed a receipt signed by the Executive Engineer, A K Dohre, dated September 26, 2017. It said that the complaint had been redressed.
The check meter was only installed, eventually, on September 28, 2017.
The video and the meter installation slip provided here should substantiate my statement. The slip is accompanied by my signature, mobile no, and date.
A similar thing happened with one of my friends, who is not under the APL category. He had gone to the power corporation office to rectify his inflated electricity bill. He was advised to deposit the bill and was assured that the bill would be rectified in the next cycle. However, nothing happened, even after several follow-ups.
For the time being, I have a check meter installed at my residence, which cannot be taken as a solution to my problem. To take the issue to its logical end, we aim for a better environment in the future, wherein the employees of the power company will not misguide the government and victimize the consumers.
Ashish Singh is a member of the Advisory Board of Youth in Social Action – a youth-led initiative in Uttar Pradesh. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Translation and inputs from Rakesh Sood, former Principal Correspondent at Financial Express; and Priyanka Sharma.