Faced with consumer wrath in election season, the government has acted double quick to check out claims made by the two discoms that the new billing systems are in place and are working efficiently.
An independent evaluation of the installation works including commissioning of transformers, capacitors, cables, conductors etc., installed by BSES and NDPL in their respective areas, will be done by a team of officials from the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) and Powergrid. The power ministry has decided to check the claims made by the discoms that billing discrepancies have been taken care of and that erection and commissioning works are progressing as scheduled. Power ministry officials agreed that erratic and inflated bills along with frequent power cuts are the two main issues that the distribution companies in DelhiBSES and NDPLhave failed to address even after two years of taking over the power distribution system in the Capital. They said BSES was drawing more flak from the consumers than NDPL as far as billing goes.
The ministry of power is flooded with complaints of different nature from hapless consumers. Witness a complaint lodged against BSES-a consumer did not receive his electricity bills from BSES for the last 4-5 months and then suddenly he was sent a bill for Rs 80,000. This is not all, even his category was switched from a household to commercial user. Despite the ministry forwarding this complaint to BSES, the consumer had to run from pillar to post and is still awaiting a positive response from the company.
The list of such complaints is endless and are coming at a time when the discoms are claiming that the new software system installed by them is running efficiently and that the present bills would be free from problems.
Senior power ministry officials said there was no problem of power availability in Delhi and power cuts in the Capital were mainly on account of faulty systems be it transformers or cable fault. In fact there is underdrawl of power everyday and continuous monitoring by the power ministry has shown that even in the peak hours there is underdrawl of 80-1000mw of power, the official said.
When contacted, a BSES spokesperson said, There were problems on the billing side but from April 1, we have put a strict monitoring system in place to see that no wrong bill goes. Bills are being scanned and there is no ambiguity left. We are generating bills for over 25,000 consumers in Delhi and a proper pre-audit is carried out to see that there is no abnormality.
On the power cuts, BSES said, We have outage management systems round the clock and all complaints are being monitored at the highest level. However at times equipment failure takes place when it takes a little time to repair. Despite repeated attempts to contact Mr A K Sardana of NDPL, he was not available for comments.
The ministry of power has already hauled up BSES abd NDPL in respect of 33 kv and 66 kv works which were programmed for 2003-04. Both the companies had slipped in the commissioning of works for the next year. Discoms say this delay is due to the problems faced by them in obtaining land for establishment of sub-stations. Towards this, the power ministry has already written to the Lt Governor of Delhi and DDA that the cost of land for infrastructure facilities needs to be reasonable to make the projects viable.