Staff Reporter

A "dangerous trend'' being employed by the discoms

NEW DELHI: Several resident welfare associations (RWAs) in Delhi have accused the private power distribution companies of deliberately sending inflated bills and then on the complaint of the consumer to the effect using the opportunity to replace the existing meter with an electronic one that is "pre-designed to show inflated levels of consumption".

Stating that it was a "dangerous trend'' being employed by the discoms, a number of RWAs have decided to approach Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission with their allegation. The RWAs are also claiming that in most cases the meters are being replaced by the discoms against the wishes of the consumers.

Citizens' rights group People's Action had in late July written to the DERC asking for clarifications on four points related to the meters being replaced. However, it lamented that DERC has not responded till date. Its president Sanjay Kaul said while the issue smacks of a conspiracy, DERC's unresponsiveness is a cause of untold misery and harassment to the people.

People's Action said the new methodology is aimed at harassing residents in a systematic manner. First an inflated bill is sent to the consumer and when the consumer complains about the meter being faulty, a change is recommended. But when the attempt is resisted, a part of a High Court judgement is cited, despite the issue not being resolved finally.

Although the Central Electricity Act clearly gives the option to consumers to choose their meters, in the absence of any regulations on this issue, the consumers have been left to the mercy of the discoms. General secretary of Malviya Nagar Federation of RWAs Ashok Prabhakar said such an approach was "unacceptable'' and that in his area, such replacements would not be allowed.

Laliet Kumar, advocate and a resident of Rohini, who has worked on the case, said: "It is mandated in the CEA that consumers should have the option to replace meters of their choice.''