Middle income groups hit hard without subsidy above 500 units; suggestions for TANGEDCO to go in for monthly billing
Domestic consumers, who received the first bill after the recent hike in power tariff, have been in for a rude shock as they discovered that their consumption charges have gone up sharply, much higher than what they had anticipated.
The real import of the power tariff hike has been felt by consumers only now and many have been taken aback on finding that their consumption charge has more than doubled.
Middle income groups are the worst hit as the government has done away with subsidy for those consuming above 500 units.
The hike in the tariff could not have come at a worse time than at the peak of summer when many households use air-conditioners to beat the searing heat and normally record higher power consumption.
Many middle class families, using air-conditioners, say their power bills were around Rs.3,000 or more. Several residents say they were now turning off or restricting use of air-conditioners.
“The EB bill has been shocking as it has gone up by 100 per cent. But when tariff revision was announced we did not realise that it would amount to so much. Power consumption charges have become a major monthly expenditure for households now,” said S.Pushpavanam, secretary, Consumer Protection Council, Tamil Nadu.
“Our average electricity charge was around Rs.600, but now it has gone up to Rs.3,000,” said K.Mukundan, a resident of Srirangam, who also complains that voltage fluctuations were causing havoc with electrical appliances leading to additional expenditure. Those residing in apartments are also faced with a sharp rise in the bill for common usage such as lift and lighting.
“There has been a sharp rise in the bill for our common area usage. We cannot afford to increase monthly maintenance as most families are reeling under the rise in fuel and power expenditure, not to speak of the general price rise,” says Chithra, a resident. For pensioners consumption charges have sent a real shock.
“In April, we were billed Rs.582 for 310 units and now the bill has run up to Rs.970 for 380 units. We do not know how to cut down on energy consumption as we normally use power minimally. The middle class bears the brunt of any price hike and we are the worst sufferers on account of power tariff hike. The EB bill leaves a big deficit in monthly budgets of families of pensioners such as ours,” said Sakunthala Srinivasan, president, Tiruchi Payaneetalar Iyakkam.
Mrs.Srinivasan pointed out that many business and service providers have increased their charges citing the hike in power tariff.
“Even our tailor has increased her charge by Rs.10. Besides, given the power cuts, most families have had to invest on inverters adding to the burden,” she said.
Similar has been the plight of many.
“These days, almost every low and middle income group families, depend on electric household appliances such as mixies, grinders and refrigerators. Use of these appliances has become indispensable. Most middle income group families have air-conditioners,” points out M.Sekaran, president, Federation of Consumer and Service Organisations.
The government, he said, should reconsider the hike taking into account the plight of people. Some also suggest that TANGEDCO could go in for a monthly billing system, as this could at least help in spreading out the financial burden.
While families are obviously stunned by the steep increase, bachelors such as P.Madhavan of Srirangam too have been hit hard. “I normally get a bill for about Rs.600 to Rs.700, but this time it has shot up to Rs.1,300. Except the refrigerator, my power consumption is minimal,” says Mr.Madhavan. Many residents are left pondering on how best to restrict consumption below 500 units. Beyond 500 units, domestic consumers would have to shell out Rs.5.75 a unit. Experts say it is time for consumers to learn to cut down their consumption to just about 10 units a day. Use of power guzzlers such as air-conditioners and geysers should be restricted and only need-based. Prudent use of household appliances and cutting down on needless use of fans, lights and televisions could be curtailed.
Use of appliances with energy efficiency ratings by Bureau of Energy Efficiency could help in restricting consumption, they say.