Smriti Kak Ramachandran

Public Grievance Cell of the Delhi Government seeks intervention of Regulatory Commission

NEW DELHI: Flooded with complaints from consumers who have been charged with theft of electricity and meter tampering, the Public Grievance Cell of the Delhi Government has written to the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission seeking its intervention.

The Cell has brought to the Commission's attention the growing number of complaints from consumers who have been charged with meter tampering by the discoms through high electro static discharge (ESD).

In case of ESD, the seals of the meters are found intact yet the meters are found tampered with.

“Electro static discharge is when sudden electric current flows between two objects at different electrical potentials. This can be caused by direct contact or induced by an electrostatic field. In this case, the discoms feel that the consumers have deliberately caused the meter to malfunction by applying high current. Which in turn is seen as a major cause of device failure,” said an official.

Explaining how consumers are being charged with ESD, he said: “When the meter readers are sent to collect the data, they find the readings inaccurate or the meter non-functional. If the seal is intact, they then attribute it to other causes like ESD, which they think could be carried out by the consumer.”

The Cell has, however, come to the rescue of consumers and asked the DERC to seek technical expertise to verify the discoms' claims.

In a letter written to the DERC, Cell chairperson Justice R.C. Chopra has expressed concern that a growing number of consumers are being booked for tampering with the meters.

Pointing out that the anomaly could be a manufacturing defect, he said: “We feel that this (ESD) may happen due to some defect in the meters itself.”

The Cell chief has expressed concern that a large number of consumers are being penalised merely on ground of suspicion and without conclusive proof.

The Cell has asked the DERC to consult experts and issue guidelines on the matter so that consumers are not harassed.

In its draft for the Delhi Electricity Supply Code and Performance Standards Regulations, 2009, which will be notified soon, the DERC too has made several recommendations about the procedure to be followed while booking a consumer for theft.

The Commission has proposed that the discoms will henceforth have to obtain signatures of independent witnesses before they accuse a consumer of meter tampering and direct theft.

If the discom finds that a consumer has tampered with the meter or if the meter is found burnt, it will have to obtain the signatures of independent witnesses whenever such cases are filed.