PUDUCHERRY: Deficiencies in the billing and collection process will be redressed by December, said officials of the Puducherry Electricity Department (PED) at a public grievance meeting here on Thursday.
The response came after consumers pointed out that there was a delay in receipt of bills and often it was given to consumers just four or five days before the due date.
There are deficiencies in collection too as the bill collectors takes too much time resulting in long queues. Computer failures at billing centres are common, leading to people missing the due date and then fined for late payment, they said.
The consumers also sought to increase the number of bill payment centres and suggested the installation of kiosks for bill payment after office time.
Stating that 25-year-old computerised billing and payment software was not suitable for the demands of the present day, executive engineer, division I,V Sridharan, said it will be replaced with new software by December. The old computers will also be replaced in phases. Besides, the department will also increase the strength of metre readers as the inadequacy of staff was leading to delays in submission of bills to consumers, he said.
“Deficiencies in online payment facility will be addressed. It will be extended through all banks and receipts will be generated on payment,” said Sridharan.
He also said a customer care centre will be established by December. The problems of load shedding and unscheduled power cuts will be addressed to a large extent when the new transformer at Venkatanagar gets operational by the month end, he added. However, consumers suggested installation of circuit breakers to ensure that fault in one area did not create problems in other areas as well.
Consumers questioned the officials on how long surcharges will be collected from them and demanded levy of service tax based on consumption and objected to a flat rate for all categories of consumers. The executive engineer also assured action on cable TV operators and others who use the electric poles for their connections.
Consumers also sought posting of annual accounts, action taken on JERC directions, updating of load shedding scheduled as well as minutes of public grievance meeting in the department’s website. They objected to unauthorised connections to illegal encroachments and to tenants without the consent of house owners by ‘improper’ interpretation of Electricity Supply Act.
Issue of LED Bulbs
Meanwhile, consumers raised a hue and cry over the distribution of LED bulbs to households by Puducherry Electricity Department.
Consumers expressed that the LED bulbs should not be provided in exchange of hard bulbs, but should be distributed free or at subsidised cost to all consumers. They also questioned the quality of the bulbs and pointed out that the bulbs distributed did not have a manufacturing date and neither MRP printed on it. Moreover, the toll free number printed on the cover did not work.
They questioned why the photos of Lt Governor, CM and Power Minister are printed on the cover of the bulb case. Meanwhile, at the World Environment Day function, Minister for Science, Technology and Environment and Power, T Thiyagarajan said, the administration was providing LED bulbs to every household at a subsidised rate.