Power bill of more than Rs 1 lakh came as a bolt from the blue to two residents of the same building in the state capital, paying around Rs 1,500 as monthly electricity tariff.
Industrial Training Institute, Gaya, principal Vijay Kumar (50), and Neelam Prabha (52), a Hindi teacher at Delhi Public School, Danapur, could not believe their eyes when they received a bill from the Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) of Rs 1,99,590 and Rs 1,38,114, respectively, against meter reading in May, 2012. Vijay and Neelam are residents of the West Boring Canal Road area.
“I am posted in Gaya and during weekends I visit my rented flat in Patna. On Friday night, my wife showed me the electricity bill and I was shocked to see that it has almost touched Rs 2 lakh. It is unbelievable. How can they generate such a bill? It is a mistake by the BSEB officials, who do not recheck the bills before sending them to the respective houses,” Vijay said.
The Telegraph is in possession of a copy of his electricity bill. It states Vijay consumed 39,260 units of power, amounting to Rs 1,99,590.
When asked about the electronic gadgets used by the ITI principal, he said: “I have an air-conditioner, four fans, a television, a refrigerator and a washing machine.”
He added: “My children stay outside the state. Only my wife stays in the Patna house and the appliances are hardly used. She uses the AC and a fan. If at all the fans and the other appliances are used every day, I don’t think the bill should be near to Rs 2 lakh.”
Vijay said every month, his house owner Sheela Prasad, hands him over the bill. “When I contacted Sheela, she told me that the BSEB employees must have done a mistake. I don’t think the board has a system of re-checking the bill. Now, I will have to run from pillar to post in the Patna Electricity Supply Undertaking (Pesu) office to get it corrected. How will I pay such a fat bill? Moreover, I will have to pay a late fine if I fail to cough up the money before July 7,” Kumar said.
Power bills are generated in the name of the landlord and electricity meters are fixed to every tenant’s individual connection. Based on these meter readings, the bills are generated.
Prabha, of the same building, was served with a similar “inflated” bill by the power board. According to the bill amounting to Rs 1,38,114, Prabha and her husband used 27,125 units of power in a month. Prabha said: “I was counting the digits on the bill in confusion. I immediately called up my husband, who is at present in New Delhi, to inform him that the BSEB has charged Rs 1,38,114 for a month. He was speechless. I have an AC, four fans, a refrigerator and two TVs.
She added: “My children are settled outside and I work in the school till evening. My husband stays mostly in New Delhi. It is impossible to consume so much electricity in a month. My average electricity bill has always ranged between Rs 800 and Rs 1,000. Now, I have to leave everything else and camp at the Pesu office to get the bill corrected. I have to suffer for somebody else’s folly.”
Pesu officials, however, claimed that such mistakes would recur because those responsible for generating bills are junior employees and they keep making such mistakes.
“Such mistakes will keep on happening but we do take corrective measures. We have outsourced the work of generating hand meter bills but they are Grade III and IV employees. I understand the problem of the consumers but we make sure that consumers do not face much of a problem in getting such inflated bills corrected,” SKP Singh, the general manager of Pesu said.