Mrunal Manmay Dash

When frequent power cuts have become a norm in a village in Odisha where the average household does not have more than two electricity bulbs and a fan, one cannot expect a monthly electricity bill going upwards of Rs 10,000.

However, the crude reality in Puta village under Rayagada’s Gunupur block is no less than a revelation.

While the frequent power cuts have robbed the villagers of the much needed sleep after a hard day, what has come as a double whammy for the village folks are the unbelievably high electricity bills that has further added to their woes.

Fed up with the blatant injustice by the administration, the hassled locals of Puta are now gearing up for a protest.

Ispeni Dalabehera, who has been studying under a kerosene lamp due to the incessant power cuts, said, “We have to study at home due to the Covid situation. However, the frequent and long power cuts have marred our studies and there seems to be no end to the suffering.”

As per reports, many households in Puta have received very high and unrealistic electricity bills from the Tata Power Southern Odisha Distribution Limited (TPSODL) under Gunupur Electricity Department. Some even complained that they received bills of more than Rs 15,000 with only two light bulbs and fan at home.

Damodar Sabar, a local of Puta said, “People have received electricity bills to the up to Rs 17,000, which is outrageous given the little electrical appliances they use at home and the frequent power cuts. If the department does not take any step in this direction, we will definitely lock up their office up in protest.”

Reacting to the consumer’s grievances, the Executive Engineer of Gunupur Electricity Department, Pradeep Rao said, “A new vendor has been roped in for meter reading and bill collection. We will carry out checks to find out the wrong.”

Similarly, apart from Gunupur block, Bhamini village under Ramnaguda block, Naira and Derigaon under Padmapur block in the district too have been facing frequent power cuts that has rendered the lift irrigation points in the area useless, resulting in hundreds of hactares of farmland go dry.

“Despite having a lift point, we cannot use it. Frequent power cuts and low voltage has rendered it useless. We have complained about this issue to the local SDO, but nothing has been done so far,” alleged Trinath Kadraka, a farmer.

Responding to the defunct LI points and power cuts, Rao said, “We are providing electricity to all farmers. However, there are some complaints which we have been addressing on a regular basis.”