My parents live in a small house, newly constructed, in my hometown. The norm is that after construction, one has to approach the Municipal Corporation and the electricity department, which we did. We got the electricity connection. For the first one and a half years, everything was normal. Then we got a bill which was six times more than the previous one, without any increase in consumption. We filed a complaint and were given the wrong report. Then after a bit of running around, having contacted the local media and friends, it was somehow resolved.
Two years ago, suddenly, the bill reached ₹30,000 (from ₹400, our usual maximum limit for a month). Here’s what we did:
1. A complaint to the department, orally and in writing: no action.
2. I filed an online complaint on Jansunwai (public hearing portal), following which the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) gave a false report.
3. I filed another online complaint on Jansunwai, which reached to District Magistrate’s (DM) office, who ordered another inquiry in this matter in a given time period.
4. The DM was transferred, UPPCL did not follow his instructions within the set timeframe. Instead, they blamed my parents for not allowing its employees to enter our premises for checking the meter.
5. Again, I filed a new complaint, to which, the SDO responded by calling my father, and threatened him, asking him to get ready to face ‘consequences’.
6. Again, I took the matter into my own hands, filed another complaint, asking for disciplinary action against the SDO.
7. The SDO then submitted a report blaming us for tampering with the meter, and we were charged a fine of ₹2.55 lakhs.
8. Then, no action was taken regarding our complaints.
9. The SDO, against whom we had complained, was made part of the inquiry team. There went any chance of an objective inquiry.
10. It is a standard practice in my hometown, that UPPCL charges around ₹20,000 to ₹30,000 from newly constructed homeowners.
11. I have tweeted multiple times, since last December, to try and resolve this issue. Some of my tweets were responded by the UPPCL official handle, promising that the issue has been resolved.
Now, let me tell you another side to the story.
A retired UPPCL employee’s house was being rebuilt in my neighbourhood, a part of which, was occupying the road (ie. they were building their porch on the street). I opposed this, and wrote about it in local media, although, nothing happened. I was threatened by the owner of the house to not write any more stories. I did, however, write about it three more times after their threat. I came to know that the SDO and these people are somehow related.
Now, I have sent an email to the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) to look into this matter, and to conduct an inquiry, as it is not simply a matter of increased electricity bill anymore.
Let us see what comes out of it. It seems to me that UPPCL has not only failed me or my family but the whole state.