The Madhya Pradesh power department is flooded with complaints of inflated electricity bills for the lockdown period - April and May.
Inflated electricity bills in Madhya Pradesh during the lockdown have become a cause of worry for common men. People in different parts of the state are now taking to the streets after they are served with power bills about Rs 50,000 against Rs 15,000.
According to a report in Hindustan Times, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worker in Bhopal received a power bill of more than Rs 50,000 against the usual Rs 15,000 per month he used to receive. Similarly, a retired government official in Gwalior was served with a bill about Rs 19,000 this month. Surendra Singh said that he used to get bills of Rs 2,000-2500 during winters and 3,500-4,000 in summers. In Sagar, a shopkeeper received a bill of more than Rs 4,800 despite his shop remaining closed for the last two months.
Similar complaints have been reported by residents in Jabalpur, Seoni, Ashok Nagar, Rajgarh, Ratlam, Gwalior and others.
According to the government officials, consumers receiving electricity bills in April and May are based on the consumption in March.
The power department is flooded with complaints, prompting the state government to announce setting up of camps in every assembly constituency to address the grievances.
Officials argued that as people were indoors during the lockdown period (April and May), they ended up consuming more units and were charged as per the higher slab of tariff.
Notably, the Congress government headed by Kamal Nath had replaced the Sambal scheme of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government with Indira Jyoti Yojana. Under this scheme, a consumer was supposed to pay only Rs 100 for 100 units if the meter reading is within 100 units in a month.
If the meter reading remains within 150 units, the consumer is supposed to pay Rs 100 for the first 100 units and normal rates for the next units upto 150.
However, if the meter shows that a consumer has used more than 150 units of power in a month, all units were charged as per the higher slab of the tariff.
Under the higher slab, the power department charges Rs 6.30 per unit from 151 to 300 units and Rs 6.50 per unit for units above 300.
Under the Sambal scheme, the Shivraj government had announced subsidised power. The scheme was announced just ahead of the Assembly elections in 2018.
The BJP which returned to power in March this year, dumped Indira Jyoti Yojna and replaced it with the Sambal scheme.
Officials said the software was supposed to be updated by mid-June for the Sambal scheme beneficiaries but it couldn’t be done. This was the reason why people were charged as per normal rates, the HT report said.
Under the Sambal scheme, the registered labourers of the unorganised sector and BPL families will be provided with electricity at Rs 200 per month. Power connection will be provided free of cost to all the beneficiaries.
In case the bill is lower than Rs 200, the beneficiaries will have to pay the actual bill amount. If the bill amount exceeds Rs 200, the difference amount will be subsidised by the government.
According to the government’s claim, the scheme is expected to benefit 88 lakh families in the state.