The JSEB office in Bistupur on Friday. (Animesh Sengupta)
Around four lakh Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) consumers across Kolhan subdivision are left in the dark, this time not by tripping transformers but by a truant monthly bill.
Sterling Transformers Private Limited, the Chennai-based private agency entrusted for spot electricity billing, has failed to do its job.
Despite Friday, August 31, being the last billing date for the month of July 2012, domestic and industrial consumers of the twin Singhbhums and Seraikela-Kharsawan are yet to get any bill. The state power board gets Rs 54 crore per month from consumers.
The bills failed to turn up as around 150 staffers engaged for meter reading and giving spot bills went on strike 15 days ago, protesting that they had not received their salaries for six months. Sources said agitated workers had somehow managed without payment for the five months. But when the company showed no signs of paying in the sixth month, they locked up the agency office located at Tuiladungri in Golmuri, Jamshedpur.
“Yes, we are aware that the private agency failed to raise electricity bills for the month of July in the three districts. We will take appropriate action against the firm based on the provisions of the contract,” JSEB chairman S.N. Verma told The Telegraph.
But the firm is not a first-time offender. Sterling Transformers that was awarded the tender for this job twice in 18 months, has failed for the fourth time in as much time to generate bills.
“The work of meter reading and serving electricity bills to consumers has been affected,” admitted A.K. Singh, general manager, the JSEB’s Singhbhum area board.
“Workers of Sterling Transformers have gone on strike as they have not got their salaries since the past six months. The Sterling management said they would make a partial payment by September 5, after which the work of meter reading and bill distribution will resume,” he added.
If JSEB has not received the revenue for July, consumers are dreading the appearance of a fat two-month whopper.
“According to the JSEB directive, the company is supposed to provide power bills to consumers by the 15th of every month. But delays are inordinate. This time, we didn’t get the bill at all. Next month, we will have to pay the electricity bill for two months in one go, which will be a budget blow,” said Ram Ratan Sahee, a JSEB consumer at Adityapur Colony.
Despite repeated attempts, no one from Sterling Transformers could be contacted for the comment.