Demand is so high that a few of the recognised outlets have been issuing tokens and consumers have to wait for a week or 10 days to get the meters.

A severe short-supply of energy meters has triggered a big rush at the four recognised dealer outlets, notified by the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO), from where consumers have been asked to buy the meters for getting new power connections.

On Wednesday, an outlet situated on the Anna Nagar Main Road, which had apparently received fresh stock, attracted a huge rush and a day-long queue was witnessed at the outlet. Demand is so high that a few of the recognised outlets have been issuing tokens and consumers have to wait for a week or 10 days to get the meters. But consumers say that getting the tokens itself has become an ordeal.

Faced with a shortage of meters, TANGEDCO had recently announced that consumers could purchase single and three phase meters of approved manufacturers (Larsen and Toubro for single and three phase meters and Linkwell System for single phase meters) from a list of recognised dealers in the city and the region. Accordingly, consumers seeking new single and three phase connections could buy the meters from June 1 onwards from dealers here and hand them over to the TANGEDCO's section office to get their connections energised.

But the supply to private dealers has fallen far short of the demand, going by the heavy rush at the outlets. “I have been waiting to get power connection for my house for the past three months. Over the past several days I have been approaching one dealer from another. Many people are facing a similar trouble and have been forced to spend days together in search of meters. The government should have made arrangements to ensure adequate supply and this is nothing but administrative inefficiency,” said an exasperated Basheer Ahmed, who was waiting in the queue at the outlet at Anna Nagar.

Some in the queue had taken leave from work. Tokens were issued early in the morning and people were asked to come in the evening to get the meters at the outlet. Tempers ran high as consumers were forced to wait in long queues in the hot sun. “This is a needless hassle for us. Why can’t the TANGEDCO buy the meters in bulk and give to the consumers on seniority basis,” wondered a woman, who said she has been waiting for more than two hours to get the token.

A section of the consumers also said that they were forced to pay a higher price of Rs.1,250 for a single phase meter (which is, however, said to be the rate fixed by TANGEDCO) than the usual rate charged by TANGEDCO when it supplied the meters. “Yet, we are prepared to shell out the extra money, if only we could get the meters without hassles,” said another youth.

Though TANGEDCO had notified recognised dealers in other centres in the region such as Thanjavur, Kumbakonam and Karur, many consumers from the towns were flocking to dealers in the city.

One of the dealers in the city said they were getting just 250 meters a week, while they received nearly 1,000 enquiries a day. Single phase meters are in acute shortage, with a few dealers saying they have stocks of three-phase meters.

Some of the dealers issue tokens only in batches, as and when they get stocks. “We start issuing fresh tokens only after exhausting the stocks that arrive,” one of the dealers said and added that manufacturers had to supply for the entire State and hence the shortage.

When contacted, a senior officer of TANGEDCO conceded that the supply did not match the demand.

“We are asking the manufacturers to step up supply to meet the demand. Any new system will face some teething troubles, but we hope the situation will improve soon,” he said.

The TANGEDCO tender process for mass procurement of meters has been hampered due to certain procedural issues and legal problems, he said.