Chennai: Electricity consumers in Tamilnadu, both domestic and commercial, were in a state of shock and confusion over the way they were being made to pay their power ‘consumption charges’.
Since the TNEB personnel had not taken direct reading due to Covid restrictions, consumers were asked to pay the bill amount of May 2019 or May 2020. This has hit hard the MSMEs, which were closed or scaled down their operations, since the pandemic.
For instance, a company in Guindy, which is not functioning for months owing to Covid impact, has been charged over Rs 2 lakh. “This is our bill amount of May 2019. How can we pay this now when we don’t have revenue and we have not consumed electricity at all,” asks its owner.
Domestic consumers too have similar issues. “We did not use AC this summer as my salary was cut. My actual electricity charges would be around Rs 500. But I was forced to pay Rs 3,500,” says Ramesh of Tambaram.
On Tuesday, the last day to pay EB bill, many consumers approached the electricity offices asking how they could pay it without taking the meter reading. But they were not given prompt answers by the officials, who themselves were in confusion.
When contacted, a senior TNEB official said consumers who had to pay their EB bill for May (2021) can pay the amount they had paid in May (2019) or in March (2021). Similarly those who have to pay the EB bill in June (2021) can pay the bill amount of June (2019) or April (2021), the official said.
He further said the amount will be adjusted in the next bill, if the consumer has paid more or less.
“Apart from this, people were asked to send their meter readings through SMS, WatsApp or e-mail to their respective EB offices and get the actual amount to be paid for this month. This amount can be paid online without coming to the office. Almost 80 per cent of the consumers have done this,” the official added.
It is said that so far the EB bills of 7.50 lakh consumers have been corrected after they reported discrepancies. But, consumers are not happy with this method of collection, especially when pandemic has hit lives and livelihoods.