Power meter issue has exposed the tall claims of Sheila Govt.

Sujay Mehdudia

NEW DELHI: Having ignored vociferous protests by the Residents' Welfare Associations (RWAs), elected representatives of the Capital's citizens and the common man on the road, the Sheila Dikshit Government has now decided to stop installation of new electronic power meters - but only after the exposure by a former Transco official before the Delhi High Court, indicating a chaotic and confused state of administration and failure to address the problems faced by lakhs of consumers.

Ever since the outburst of massive public unrest over the fast running electricity meters, inflated bills and wayward ways of the private power distribution companies, the Delhi Government has been the first one to come out strongly in defence of the discoms. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit added to the chaos by time and again changing her stand on the issue and issuing statements aimed at giving the discoms a clean chit.

Initially Ms. Dikshit had termed the protests as "motivated'' and "handful'' directed at targeting the Government. Then she even threatened the consumers that those who refuse to pay their inflated bills would face disconnection. This was followed by a strong reprimand of the discoms for not living up to expectations of the people. Even before this could have its impact, Ms. Dikshit went ahead once again complimenting the discoms for their outstanding performance ignoring the protests by the RWAs and the common man, reflecting utter confusion in dealing with such a sensitive matter that has affected lakhs of consumers and has the potential of making things difficult for the ruling party in any future battle of the ballot.

It was only after the heat was turned on the Delhi Government by eminent personalities who also jumped on to the protest bandwagon that it decided to go slow on electronic meters installation and spelt out measures to redress the grievances of the consumers. However, that still remains a distant dream as the consumers are being made to run from pillar to post to get their inflated bills rectified. Now the revelation by an individual, who is also deposing before the court, that the electronic meters were indeed fast running and certain measures need to be taken to ensure that they run at a normal speed, has exposed all the tall claims of the Government.

"The Delhi Government has been a party to the loot of the consumers by the discoms. Now it should share the burden along with the discoms to get the wiring in the lakhs of households checked, something that should have been done almost two years ago,'' a senior Congress MLA remarked.

The United Resident Joint Action (URJA) comprising various RWAs and a section of consumers are already demanding compensation from the discoms and the Government for the hundreds of crores that have been milked from them through these "dubious" electronic meters. "It is amazing that the Delhi Government watched the entire loot silently and did not bother about the hue and cry raised by the affected consumers. It clearly highlights the failure of a Government that seems to be under some kind of obligation from the private discoms and refuses to act in public interest,'' said a senior Minister full of resentment that even the Cabinet colleagues of the Chief Minister were not being consulted by her on such important public matters.