Sovan Deb Chatterjee, West Bengal power minister, has asked consumers in Kolkata and Howrah not to pay the exorbitant electricity bills until the private power utility issues revised bills with a reduced amount for June.
“I would suggest the consumers not to pay the exorbitant electricity bill amount. Officials of the private power utility told me that they would calculate the power consumption for June separately and issue revised bills that would work out to be much less,” said Chatterjee after a meeting with the officials of the power utility on Monday.
Chatterjee himself received an electricity bill amounting to Rs 11,000 in June, which he claimed was exorbitant and abnormal. Lakhs of consumers in Kolkata and Howrah have complained of exorbitant power bills. Some consumers received electricity bills running into lakhs of rupees. The power utility has drawn the harried consumers’ flak and the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) government had to intervene.
Officials of the private power utility, however, had said that because of the nationwide lockdown restrictions, which were enforced since March 25 to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), physical meter reading in many parts of Kolkata and Howrah, under its jurisdiction, couldn’t be done.
“We had sent low provisional bills based on regulatory guidelines. We had taken into account the consumption of the last six months. The provisional amount was low because it included the winter months as well. The balance was adjusted in bills that made the amounts look high,” said an official of the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC), which supplies power in the twin cities of Kolkata and Howrah.
Chatterjee was not satisfied with the CESC’s explanation and had called a meeting with the power utility’s top brass on Monday.
“They told me that they are not taking the pending amount for April and May. However, they are yet to make it clear, whether the pending dues will be billed later,” the minister added.