Staff Reporter

Computerisation does not speed up operations

CHENNAI: Frayed tempers, heated arguments and the long wait in queues have become the norm at bill collection centres of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board these days, despite computerisation of the operations.

The power utility consumers in many parts of the city and its suburbs say they are facing hardships while paying the bills.

On Thursday, chaos prevailed at a counter in Nilamangai Nagar, Adambakkam, as the counter staff struggled to come to terms with computer and the surge of consumers in the morning. The heat compounded the problem for consumers. The situation turned unpleasant when a consumer objected to another person going inside the office and handing over a bunch of cards to the counter staff.

War of words

When a war of words ensued, a person came out of the office and almost landed a blow on the consumer. When the consumer objected, the person said he was a superintendent and challenged him to take action. A few others in the queue restrained the two.

Consumers in several areas say the TNEB should provide adequate computer training to the counter staff. A few suggested a separate counter for those making payment for more than one bill.

But what is agitating the consumers is their wait for a minimum half an hour in some places, especially on days close to the last date. Adding to their woes is the unfriendly attitude of the counter staff, who do not respond properly to queries.

Residents say that in the name of consolidation, a number of collection centres in the suburbs have been shifted without informing the public. Residents of Madipakkam who paid their bills at Ganesh Nagar 4th Main Road have been shifted to the office at Madipakkam bus stand, much to the discomfort of many.

Teething problems

When contacted, a senior official of the TNEB said bill payments at several places were computerised only from April 1 and there were teething problems, which would be sorted by the next billing cycle.

The counter staff, he said, would get another round of computer training.

A consumer activist from Pattabhiram, T. Sadagopan says that all these years, the TNEB staff use the readings made at individual homes to make receipts prior to payment.

Now in the computerised system, where payment can be done at any counter within the distribution circle, the Board personnel need to check the entry in each card and then prepare receipts.