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Masses frown at power queue

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By AMIT GUPTA in Ranchi
  • Published 8.03.07
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Ranchi, March 8: Consumers continue to wait in long queues to pay their electricity bills despite the Jharkhand State Electricity Board’s claims of having simplified the payment process.

Standing on a serpentine queue to pay an electricity bill is a nightmare for many.

Every month, Sandeep Kumar of Lalpur Chowk stands for hours in a queue to deposit electricity bills at a Kokar-based office of Ranchi circle of JSEB.

Same is the problem of R.K. Gupta of Sarjana Chowk on Main Road. Gupta sends his only staff to deposit the monthly power bills.

“It takes at least two to three hours to deposit the bill. My business is suffering due to the delay,” he said.

With many banks siding away with the job of power bill collection, the residents are left with no choice but to deposit the bills standing hours in queues.

The Ranchi circle of JSEB, which has been divided into several subdivisions responsible for collection of bills in their respective areas, as of now, caters to the need of about 1.80 lakh consumers realising a monthly collection of about Rs 13.5 crore.

But when it comes to providing facilities to the public, the board miserably fails as consumers are forced to deposit the bills standing in long queues.

Earlier, several banks were roped in to deposit the electricity bills, but later they shied away from the job.

“Now only about eight branches of nationalised and private banks are accepting bills from the residents. But the situation is expected to improve in near future,” said Umesh Kumar, JSEB’s director (accounts and revenue).

Kumar’s optimism is largely due to a recent order of state energy regulatory commission which has categorically said that the banks could charge some additional amount as energy bill collection surcharges from the consumers directly.

“The surcharge amount has not been specified. But it would be levied on the consumer and the electricity board has nothing to do with the amount,” said Kumar, adding that they have sent a communiqué to all banks concerned to encourage them to involve in the process of electricity bills collection.

From next time, the consumers could have to pay some extra, if the services are to be availed through the banks, JSEB officials said.

Executive engineer of Ranchi circle A.N. Singh said they normally collect the bills from the consumer starting from the 20th day of any month to the 30th day. “We try to minimise the crowd during bill collection days and divide people into equal groups who deposit the bills at specific date. Despite that, the queues are normal phenomenon as many banks side-stepped from accepting bills from consumer,” he said.