By Mohammad Faheem Usmani
Mumbai: Several people in Mumbai and its suburbs were in shocks when they received extremely high electricity bills for the month of May in June 2020 from the power supply companies. The same are the cases observed in some other states too as in Telangana, the Hyderabad High Court has been hearing a PIL filed with consumers grievances on price hike.
In this June, several consumers of Tata Power, Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML), the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking, and the State run Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Corporation Limited (MSEDCL), took to social media platforms demanding an explanation for the high amounts over their normal bills. In some cases, the bills were for more than Rs. 10,000 which was 10 times more than they usually pay for their monthly power bills. Mumbai has nearly 32 lakh residential power consumers and around eight lakh commercial consumers.
Maulana Mohammad Burhanuddin Qasmi, a prominent scholar, writer and a resident of Mumbai made three consecutive tweets with snapshots from his bill documents and said that ‘electricity bill will kill many in Mumbai’. His post was also largely shared from his Facebook Page and discussed in various social media groups. MB Qasmi wrote in his posts, “Today it was shocking to get an electricity bill of Rs. 16330 for the month of May 2020. Our March’s bill was Rs. 1200 + April’s Rs. 2540 ( = total Rs 3740 pending) + May’s Rs 5737 (according to them which is highly questionable because our yearly average bill has been Rs. 2200-2500 only) = Rs. 9477 stands total bill for three months even by Adani’s own calculation. When asked about additional Rs 6853, they replied because ‘we did not make meter readings in March and April therefore an average amount is added in the previous two months’! “You, will have to pay the full amount Rs 16330″, asserted the customer care executive! We are simply helpless. Adani Electricity is hitting us both in hearts and minds in Mumbai.”
The people are getting panic due to this shocking hike in their average bills. It is adding to their injury particularly in these critical times of COVID-19 Pandemic when people are suffering from financial calamities amid constant lockdown.
Another consumer– Mujeeb Khan, a Theater Director and a Mumbaiker, posted on social media terming the bill as ‘Lockdown Gift’. He wrote on his Facebook Wall, “Today I received my electricity bill for the month of May, it came up to a sum of ₹ 10801/-, I was shocked. Generally, we receive electricity bills in the range of ₹4000 to 4500 per month. We use our A/C on 25 degrees and the other electronics weren’t used much in the month of May due to Ramadan. I called the customer care service, a lady named ‘Ms Nargis’ their executive said the SET sentence “aap ne itna use kiya hai. Aur aapko jo bhi bolna hai aap mail karo, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org”. In this ‘Lockdown’ period, where many of us who function on ‘hand to mouth basis’ are facing financial crisis, Adani electricity was too kind to (in) send(ing) us this gift with no explanation of any sort”, he anguished.
Khan further wrote, “If it wasn’t a lockdown, I would’ve definitely performed a street play for people to know about this problem. Nevertheless, I shall make a short film about it and address the issue.”
Several citizens had expressed outrage over receiving sky-high bills, some pointing out whopping a rise of up to more than 10 times of their normal electricity bill.
Speaking to the Eastern Crescent, Maulana MB Qasmi said, “While my average electricity bill amounts to Rs 2200 to 2500 per month, I was shocked to see that I was charged Rs. 16330 for three months in the month of May. AEML should clarify the matter and reissue error-free bill at the earliest.”
He also said that he repeatedly tried to contact the helpline numbers but could not succeed to get satisfactory answer, then he took to social media platforms to register his complain.