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Power firms responsible for high-voltage damage

More power to the consumer is our motto, whether buying rajma or a watch. Pushpa Girimaji tells you how to get empowered.

delhi Updated: Jun 20, 2010 00:40 IST
Pushpa Girimaji

Whenever we buy appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators or even personal computers and printers, we buy with it, voltage stabilisers or spike busters to protect the appliance from variations in voltage.

But there are instances where the voltage variation is so sharp and severe that even the spike buster is unable to protect the appliance. When that happens, obviously, the service provider responsible for such deficient service has to indemnify the loss suffered by the consumer.

However, power supply and distribution companies often do not accept responsibility for such shoddy service, forcing the consumers to approach the consumer court constituted under the Consumer Protection Act for relief.

Take the case of Rajendra Kumar Tripathi, a resident of Kanpur. On November 10, 1991, the entire family was watching a Sunday movie when a sudden voltage surge resulted in all their electrical gadgets, including television sets and a refrigerator, going out of order.

That was not all. Even the internal wiring in the house and the electricity meters were also burnt and damaged. On investigation, it was found that a high tension line, passing in front of his house had snapped and fallen on the road and subsequently had connected with the low tension line supplying power at 220 volts to Tripathi’s house.

When the service provider failed to make good the loss or even send an electrical inspector, as required under the law, to assess the loss, Tripathi sought the help of the consumer court .

Holding the service provider liable, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in this case awarded a compensation of Rs 1.75 lakh along with 6 per cent interest to be calculated from the date of filing of the complaint in 1992.

It also awarded litigation costs of Rs 5,000. (Rajendra Kumar Tripathi Vs Chairman, UP State Electricity Board, Lucknow and General Manage, KASA (presently KESCO,) First appeal no 80 of 2001, decided on December 12, 2006.)

In the case of Haryana State Electricity Board Vs Anand Medicos (RP No 563 of 2002) the National Commission awarded a compensation of Rs 2,19, 316, along with 12 per cent interest, on the basis of the loss assessment made by a surveyor called by the consumer. Here, a steep surge in voltage had caused a short circuit and the resultant fire had destroyed all medical supplies in the shop owned by the consumer.

Praveen Kumar Chaudhary: On two occasions — on the morning of May 27, 2010, and a week prior to that — a very high voltage of electricity, 320-340 volts, supplied by the power distribution company caused me and many of the residents of my colony, huge loss as many electrical instruments were damaged. How do we get compensation for the loss suffered by us on account of this deficient service?

Answer: I guess you have already complained to the distribution company and it has not responded positively. Since in this case, a number of residents have been affected, you can file a class action petition.

Or to put it differently, all of you can file one common complaint, only the compensation being sought will vary, depending on the loss caused to each individual. Of course, each one of you will have to accurately calculate the loss or damage suffered and seek adequate compensation. . I have already quoted the case law that would support your case.

However, I would suggest that you first try out the State Electricity Regulatory Commission. If you fail to get justice there, you can approach the consumer court.

Do you have any problems? Send in your queries to: pgirimaji@gmail.com