Several Hyderabadis were in for a rude shock when the electricity bill for the month of April arrived in May. "I usually get a bill of Rs 1,000. This time the bill is Rs 5000. Forget an air conditioner, I don’t even have an air cooler at home," said Syed S Irfan, a resident of Azampura in the city who has never in the past received a bill of Rs 5,000 from the Southern Power Distribution Company of Telangana Limited (TSSPDCL).
Another resident Nishant was expecting a bill of Rs 6,000 for the month of April. “I use the air conditioner at noon as I am working from home and also at night. But the bill came upto just Rs 2,500 and I was relieved,” said the techie from Erragadda.
Residents across the city complained of inconsistencies in the electricity billing. In one instance a consumer with 2 air conditioners was billed Rs 2,069 while another consumer with just two ceiling fans and fridge in the house was charged Rs 1149. Admitting that there are inconsistencies in the billing, officials, however, say the chances of such billing is only 1% among the 70 lakh connections with the TSSPDCL in Hyderabad.
“Since lockdown began in March no meter reading visits have taken place. In the absence of meter readings, we have been levying bills from last year for the same period, “ said Shareef, a spokesperson for the Southern Power Distribution Company of Telangana Limited, (TSSPDCL) to TNM, “We will adjust the bills once the lockdown is over,” the official added.
Domestic users in the state consuming 0-50 units per month are charged Rs 1.45 per unit and those consuming 51-100 units are charged Rs 2.60 per unit. The Telangana government had in February decided to increase tariff rates by Rs 1 for units above 100 which was expected to come into effect on April 1, “We have not increased the tariff rates yet. The government has not taken a decision on this yet. Any increase in tariff rates will happen only after the lockdown,”.Lockdown in Telangana has been extended to May 31.
In the meantime, consumers are concerned about paying the bill. “There has been no work for many people in the past two months.How will they pay the bill in the meantime?” asks Irfan, a resident.
Vasu G, another resident from Somajiguda area said, “I got a bill of Rs 5000 which is ridiculous, I barely use the air conditioner. I don’t intend to pay anytime soon, it’s not as if they are going to make home visits and disconnect the electricity.Everyone in the apartment building got very huge bills. The apartment next door also got a huge bill even though no one stays there,”