Could you be one of the thousands in Chennai with a faulty meter that TANGEDCO has refused to replace? Maybe.

15 lakh electricity meters in Chennai are faulty and the govt is doing nothing about it
news Power Saturday, July 09, 2016 - 13:23

In the midst of TANGEDCO’s severe debt touching Rs. 18,000 crores and defaulting many payments, here’s another bomb – several meters installed across homes in Chennai are faulty, according to documents accessed through the Right to Information of Act.

Either thousands of Chennai residents are paying way more than they should be, or are paying too less, chipping away at tax payers’ money.

Inexplicably, the private vendor who supplied the fault meters, is seeking to replace the faulty meters but is not being allowed to do so, and has not been paid what is due, the documents reveal.

A copy of the RTI filed to access data on TANGEDCO's procrement.

Capital Power Systems, a Noida based firm involved with procurement and supply of single phase meters for domestic use, had supplied 7,20,000 meters during 5 years between 2011-2015 to TANGEDCO. Of this 1,20,000 were found to be faulty. 

Before the meters are paid for, the government agency carries out a testing process. A three tier system of testing out the meters within the private company, then sending the meters to inspection officers. TANGEDCO steps in by testing three random samples and sending them to the CRPI in Bangalore. 

In the case of of 1,20,000 meters which were delivered in one phase, 2 out of 3 samples were found to be faulty. “Standard procedure dictates that another three samples from the same pool would be sent for testing. But TANGEDCO did not follow that,” says Pawan Bansal, head of Capital Power Systems.

A copy of the RTI filed to access data on TANGEDCO's procrement.

Based on an RTI filed by Capital Power Systems, the company accessed information on the meters that were in use. “We offered TANGEDCO the option of replacing these meters. But TANGEDCO has neither replaced these meters nor paid us the amount of money of 9.5 crore rupees,” says Bansal. TANGEDCO is however, still receiving revenue from the usage of these faulty meters across homes. While consumers pay their bills and taxes, some of them could just be victims to these faulty meters. 

In another order, TANGEDCO demanded that they pay a lesser amount to Capital, lowering the price on goods already supplied. What's puzzling is that this issue was brought up two years after the order was placed. “This is completely unethical considering they did not even pay the previous amount for the 1,20,000 meters,” says Bansal.

Further, in 2014-2015, 45,000 meters were found to be faulty, TANGEDCO swiftly accepted the replacement of these meters from Capital but defaulted on the payment again this time of Rs. 6 crore.

A copy of the RTI filed to access data on TANGEDCO's procrement.

“I have since reached out to the Power Minister Piyush Goyal, the Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and the CMD of TANGEDCO. While the Power Minister gave me of a response, I have not heard anything from the CM or the CMD,” says Bansal. Bansal says a total loss of 10 crores has been reported for the company. 

TNM could not reach the Executive Engineer of Meters in Chennai. However, a TNEB official clarified without wanting to be named. "We are facing huge losses and have defaulted on many payments. But this is purely a delay and not a denial. We will pay them in time. As for these meters, we will try to replace them, which will take time," he said. On the subject of consumers paying taxes and bills for faulty meters, he refused to speak and denied the allegation. TANGEDCO had sent a letter to Capital assuring payment. 

For over 3 years, consumers have been paying for faulty meters which TANGEDCO has not bothered to replace or pay the vendor. Capital Systems has since written to the Power Minister Piyush Goyal and TN CM J Jayalalithaa to no avail. While backlog of payments is increasing, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has declared that the AIADMK government under her has successfully solved the power crisis. But for the many who pay taxes and bills for faulty meters, it's a fraudulent system.