ROURKELA: The Tata Power Western Odisha Distribution Ltd (TPWODL) has been in the eye of a storm over inflated energy bills and alleged use of coercive methods to collect the dues in Rourkela.Locals alleged that Thursday’s incident where the discom’s bill collection staff allegedly assaulted an elderly woman and her son over pending electricity bill is a case in point. Often consumers are pressurised to pay immediately before their grievances are heard and at times, TPWODL employees resort to high-handedness while dealing with consumers, they alleged.
On Thursday, an elderly woman Parbati Das and her son Saroj of Jail Road were allegedly assaulted by TPWODL employees in public view and threatened to disconnect their power supply after they protested the inflated bill.RN Pali police station IIC BK Bihari said a cases were registered on the complaints from both sides. The TPWODL lineman Amit Bagachi alleged he was attacked and prevented from performing duty. But it is not just Parbati and her son who faced TPWODL wrath for protesting inflated power bills, the list of harassed consumers is long.
A private employee Raghubir Singh said he used to get monthly bill of Rs 250 to Rs 300 but now he has received a bill for two months amounting to Rs 7,000. Unable to pay, he asked the staff to tell him the reason but to no avail.Similarly, a businessman Parshan Agarwal said for his three-phase connection he used to pay an average of Rs 5,000 per month but now he received a month’s bill of Rs 12,000. He said after TPWODL took over, meter reading is never done regularly and consumers are asked to pay inflated bills. In the absence of grievance redressal by the discom, Agarwal was asked to foot the bill immediately but he decided not to do so and raise the issue with higher authorities of the discom.
TPWODL Superintendent Engineer AN Meher reasoned that after TPWODL’s arrival the kVAh-based billing method was introduced and due to the technical reason of ‘poor power factor’, three-phase customers without capacitor banks received bills that were three to four times higher. Consumers who, as per the agreement with TPWODL, fixed capacitor banks are receiving normal bills, he said.
As far as domestic consumers are concerned, Meher said due to the pandemic, physical reading of meters was not done from April and consumers were issued bill for three months at a time. He refuted the allegations of high-handedness by TPWODL employees and said for the company, consumers are top priority.