BENGALURU: Missing the payment date for your electricity bill could soon cost you a lot more when it comes to getting the connection restored. The Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM), in its tariff revision petition before the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC), has proposed a change in the charges that customers have to pay for reconnection of power supply after paying the bill. The proposal, which the KERC will decide on soon, will ask customers to shell out between Rs 100 and Rs 200 for low tension (LT) consumers, under which all domestic consumers fall under.
Currently, consumers with a single phase connection pay Rs 20 while those with a 3 phase connection pay Rs 50 to have their connections restored. According to BESCOM, these charges were not commensurate with the costs incurred by BESCOM in providing reconnections.While this is a good way for the company to ensure that customers do not default, it is likely to create a lot of resentment in domestic consumers, if implemented. Already, the utility has faced a lot of flak for its system of printing a disconnection notice at the back of the bill instead of sending a notice to the consumer. Earlier, the utility also experimented with stickers pasted on the meters of those who had not paid their bill in order to indicate that their supply would be disconnected. In addition, the quality of the bill, a long- standing issue, makes the notice almost illegible for many to read.
“No one can afford to live without electricity ... it is important and everyone would want to settle their bills as soon as possible, but every once in a while, people forget or are travelling and when they cut the power, getting them to reconnect it is a pain. When I called once, they told me it would take 24 hours for them to come and restore the connection. This is for putting back the fuse which they had taken out and kept near the meter itself. For this service, paying them Rs 100 or Rs 200 is not right,” said Sharath Sharma, a resident of Jayanagar 4th block.
While the utility’s response to such issues is that customers can opt for Electronic Clearing Service (ECS) to ensure there is no disconnection, there are several complaints in the past from ECS customers who have had the power to their houses cut as well. “There is no human touch to how the company operates. Even something as simple as going up to the house to ask if they have paid the bill in the past few days is too much effort for their meter readers. They behave rudely and say that no amount of complaints will change their behaviour. With no other choice of power supply, consumers have to put up with this kind of behaviour” said Rashmi Singh, a resident of Old Airport Road.
The utility is asking for an average increase of Rs 1.45 per unit of power supplied to customers this year. The petition, filed in December last year, is currently pending before the KERC.