CHENNAI: For the 25 years that Shanthi has lived in a one bedroom 215 sqft house with five tube lights, a small television set and one fan along with her mother at Kasimedu, her bi-monthly electricity bill had never crossed Rs 600. But for the past six months, the bill has tripled as Tangedco officials have been taking meter readings five days after the stipulated date, by which time the readings cross the subsidy mark of 100 units. This issue is prevalent across Singaravelan Nagar at Kasimedu affecting more than 2500-odd residents like Shanthi.
As per the norms, meter readings are usually done by local Tangedco officials once in every two months on the 10th day at Singaravelan Nagar. But, for the past six to eight months, readings are taken only by 15th or 18th day of that month, residents said. Because of this delay, the number of units consumed exceeds a particular fixed slab and costs the consumer more than the actual rate. “In two months, on an average, we pay for 350-400 units of power. But by the time officials take the readings on the 15th, it crosses the 500 units slab and I have to pay at least Rs 1,500 more than the actual rate,” said Shanthi, a resident of 2nd Street.
As residents of this locality are predominantly fishermen, they are unable to pay large sums at short notice because of which electricity connection is often cut in such households. “They don’t even inform us why they are taking off the fuse from our houses. And even after we pay our dues, the supply is not restored. Only if we give a bribe of Rs 100, officials put the fuse back on,” said Manimaran, a fisherman.
Kanchana, another resident has been paying Rs 700-800 on an average for the past five years as her current bill. But for the past three months she had to pay double the sum - Rs 1500-2000. “I had pledged my jewels to pay the power bill for July and August. As they take the readings after a week, the extra units are added to that month’s bill. Once when I questioned the official about this, he threatened to cut the power supply if I didn’t pay the amount,” she said.
Tangedco officials told Express that assessment of readings can be taken either five days before or after the given date. “Each area will be given a specific date to assess the meter readings. Mostly officials stick to this date. Maybe once or twice there might have been a delay, but never on a regular basis. But the 60 day count will be maintained for estimating the bill,” said an official.