| Congress candidate Ajit Sharma campaigns in Bhagalpur on Sunday. Picture by Amit Kumar |
Payal Singh (36), a homemaker and resident of Adampur locality, has decided not to vote in the August 21 bypolls.
Reason? She is fed up with power and billing problems and blames politicians for not cooperating with consumers. “I will only vote for one who can solve our power problems,” she said. Ever since the Bhagalpur Electricity Distribution Company Pvt. Ltd (BEDCPL) came into existence on January 2014, power consumers like her have had to face immense problems. Payal said: “We received a Rs 1.59 lakh bill for January-February 2014. My husband and I had to run from pillar to post to get it rectified. Finally, we had to pay just Rs 715 in March 2014.” But the ordeal was far from over.
“The company stopped sending monthly bills, so I had to visit its office at Kacheri Chowk at least four times to get duplicate bills for June-July. The bill was another shocker, Rs 51,000 for just two months. It is a tough for a housewife like me to queue up every time and meet hostile officials concerned to get the bill rectified.
Thousands of other consumers here are facing acute power cuts due to short supply or faults in their respective areas, not to forget billing irregularities. In fact, irate power consumers from Parvatti, Kabirpur, Sahebganj, Asanandpur and Sarai raided the sub-divisional power office at Nathnagar on Monday and mercilessly beat up Avinav Arora, general manager of BEDCPL.
The inefficiency of the private company is posing a threat to the law and order situation here, said Ruksunni Khatun, a schoolteacher residing in the city’s Ramsar area. Asked whom she would vote for, she shot back: “Do you think we are going to vote for candidates who give assurances but do not cooperate with us?”
Congress candidate Ajit Sharma blamed the previous MLA (BJP’s Ashwini Choubey) for the problem. The earlier public representative has not done anything in the past 24 years to solve drinking water and electricity problems, he said. “I have mentioned power problems faced by residents here in my poll agenda. We are not joining residents in their protest against the private company as the election committee’s model code of conduct is in place.
Deputy mayor and local BJP leader Prity Shekher was busy campaigning for the party’s candidate here, Nabhay Choudhary. She claimed: “We have, for long, been organising agitations and programmes against the private company here. During a meeting of the party’s state executive council here in July, I urged party leaders to move a resolution to hold agitation programmes in the Bhagalpur unit.”