| HSPDP legislator Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit raises the issue of power tariff in Assembly on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, March 18: The alleged error in the billing system and “arbitrary” hike of power bill by the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) has angered consumers. Opposition legislator Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit today threatened in the Assembly to take the issue to the streets, saying, “the people cannot afford to pay the high rate.”
Disappointed at the Speaker, Abu Taher Mondal, for disallowing him to move a Zero Hour notice in the House to discuss the high rate of electricity being charged by the MeECL, Basaiawmoit said the consumers, including people from his Nongkrem constituency, cannot pay such huge bills.
Basaiawmoit, who is the also the chief executive member of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), quoted the high rate of electricity bills by comparing the previous and the present rates, which he had noted down from the bills of consumers. He said electricity bills had increased from Rs 250 to Rs 2,833, Rs 450 to 9,260, Rs 655 to Rs 5,859 and Rs 629 to Rs 4,908 in some cases.
Though the Speaker disallowed him from discussing the issue, Basaiawmoit stood up and said, “The people, especially the poor, cannot pay this huge amount. Please don’t force the people to take the issue to the streets.
Mondal said the application for bringing Zero Hour notice was not admitted for discussion since the issue related to power had been raised and replied by the government in the House during the ongoing session. He assured that he would ask the government to take necessary steps.
The MeECL and the state government may have to face the brunt of people’s anger over the issue of power hike especially since many consumers who had already paid the previous electricity bill were distributed red electricity bills this time. The consumers suspect that the hike could be the result of a new tariff implemented by the MeECL.
Chief minister Mukul Sangma had recently informed the House that MeECL proposed a hike of 89 per cent and the petition for power hike was submitted to the Meghalaya State Electricity Regulatory Commission for consideration. The consumers demanded an explanation from the MeECL regarding the errors committed in the bills.
The aggrieved consumers also threatened not to pay the bill to protest against the alleged sudden and unreasonable increase in the electricity bill.