Mrunal Manmay Dash

Power distribution company, Tata Power is accused of billing its consumers in Bhubaneswar in a 40-day cycle instead of monthly.

It is alleged that with the 40-day billing cycle, consumers are being charged at higher slab rates for the 10 extra days, which could have been charged at much lesser rates in the next monthly bill.

It is pertinent to mention here that domestic consumers are billed at Rs 3 for the first 50 units, Rs 4.8 for the next 150 units, Rs 5.8 for the next 200 units and Rs 6.20 for subsequent units.

So, when Priyabrata Biswal in Bhubaneswar’s Samantarapur received his electricity bill for the month of June, he was surprised after seeing that he was billed for 40 days.

“My metre reading was taken on May 9 last month. But they took my reading on June 18 handing me a 40-day bill of Rs 8,135. The last 10 days' units should have been added in the next month’s bill. This way, Tata Power is cheating me by billing me in much higher slab,” said Priyabrata Biswal.

“When I asked the metre reader why is he deliberately delaying my metre reading by 10 days, he did not have any answers. Tata power has devised a smart way to cheat consumers,” Biswal alleged.

Similarly, another consumer in Bhubaneswar, Purnachandra Pradhan said, “They have mentioned ‘1 month’ in the bill but if you count the days, it is 40 days. We are paying much higher electricity charges for this reason."

“The subsidy that the consumer gets every month is being denied to us by Tata Power. If the company takes even Rs 30 more from every consumer in this way, then it is cheating Odisha Rs 30 crore every month. Why can’t it provide bills to everybody on a fixed date?” asked member of the Electricity Consumers Association, Panchanan Kanungo.

Energy analyst, Bibhu Prasad Swain said, “As per the provisions in Consumer Regulation-109, the distribution company can deviate in billing by a maximum of 3 days. Similarly, Regulation 148 says, if they deviate in billing at all, they should make it on pro-rata basis. If they are deviating more than three days, then it is clearly a violation of the law.”

It is worth noting that this type of billing is witnessed only in the summer when electricity consumption is generally high.

While nobody in Tata Power was available for comments, later the distribution company issued a clarification on the allegations.

“Due to recurrent episodes of Kalbaisakhi (Nor'wester), there has been a delay in capturing the meter reading beyond the specified billing cycle. We have taken steps to rectify the same. We shall apply the necessary credit to the customer's account in the subsequent billing cycle. As part of our SOP, we also send an SMS notification to the customer, providing information about the issue and the corresponding billing credit,” Tata Power said.

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