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Reminder on wheels for power bills

Pay up or stay in the dark.

To shore up its revenues, a cash-strapped JSEB on Monday launched a mobile warning service across Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad and Hazaribagh, asking consumers to pay their monthly power bills in time or face snapping of supply.

“We have put all our imagination to good use. For residential areas, we have pressed vans equipped with public address systems into service to tell consumers that they need to pay up immediately if they wanted their homes to remain lighted,” Ram Janam Singh, electrical superintending engineer, Ranchi circle, said.

The JSEB vans are also touring wholesale markets and commercial areas, warning traders and businessmen against default.

For industrial areas, the JSEB has programmed unit-to-unit visits. “Unlike residential areas, where we are using public address systems, we are relying on personal contacts for better results in getting industrial units to pay up,” Singh said.

Notices are also being put up on JSEB boards. As bizarre as it may sound, the power board also plans to approach places of worship to urge the faithful to clear their electricity bills every month.

“It is simple. We need cash. We are telling our consumers in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad and Hazaribagh to pay up in the first phase. The same campaign will be replicated elsewhere,” said JSEB chairman S.N. Verma.

“Whenever a transformer breaks down, people put up roadblocks and gherao our offices demanding immediate replacement. What they fail to understand is that to purchase a new transformer we need money,” Verma said.

Similarly, replacement of old transmission wires, putting up guard wires, erecting substations to ensure smooth supply, changing power conductors, et al, everything costs money. “Unless our consumers pay up where will we get funds to do all these?” the JSEB boss was candid.

There have been instances when industrial units across the state have run up lakhs in unpaid power bills. “These units have then changed names to evade action. This will not be tolerated any longer,” Verma warned.

He maintained that in the past year, power supply had improved drastically in state. “Compared to Patna, Bhubaneswar or Calcutta, load shedding in Ranchi has been minimal. To enable us to perform better, consumers need to pay their bills in time,” he added.

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