Smriti Kak Ramachandran

Public Grievance Cell has stepped in after many complaints

NEW DELHI: The Public Grievance Cell set up by the Delhi Government has urged the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission to issue directions to hold distribution companies responsible for the safety of meters installed outside the premises of consumers.

Following complaints by several consumers that they were being wrongly accused of tampering with the meters, the Cell has stepped in to resolve the issue. “In the last couple of meetings of the Electricity Consumers Advocate Committee, members raised the issue of who is responsible for the safety of meters that are installed outside of the consumers’ premises,” said Power Department sources.

The members apprised the Cell that a recurring complaint from consumers was that they were being slapped with hefty fines for “tampering”, which could have been carried out by unscrupulous individuals or discom officials.

“Justice R.C. Chopra chairman of the Pubic Grievance Cell has now written to DERC pointing out the need to make the discoms accountable for the safety of such meters that are placed outside the premises of consumers like in group housing societies and multi-storey buildings,” the source said.

The Cell chairman has quoted the Central Electricity Act clause 7 (b) (i) and 13 (3) wherein it is listed that the discoms should provide a real time display unit inside the consumer’s premises if the meter installed is outside or far away.

“The Act says that consumers should be responsible for the real time display unit and not the meter if it is installed elsewhere. As of now the liability of ensuring that the meter is not tampered with lies with the consumer,” sources pointed out.

Consumers and consumer protection forums have argued that the consumer cannot be blamed for the safety or maintenance of the meter if it is placed outside the residence. It has also been put forth that the discoms refuse to consider tampering as an act of mischief by unscrupulous elements or as an arm twisting measure by dishonest staff.

“The Cell had in the past too raised the demand for having meter boxes designed with a locking system so that the meter seal cannot be tampered with. These boxes were to be installed at a nominal cost by the discoms and paid for by the consumers. Now the Cell wants DERC to come out with guidelines to save consumers from undue harassment,” said sources.

A DERC official said the issue would be examined and appropriate steps taken. “We are yet to receive the letter, but yes the issue will be looked into and whatever steps it merits, action will be taken accordingly,” the official said.