Dakshinanchal (Agra) Distribution Company has virtually usurped the UP Electricity Regulatory Commission's (UPERC's) authority to decide power tariff for it.
Complaints of the discom making illegal changes in the tariff fixed by the UPERC had been coming for long from various cities under Agra discom. Documents in possession of HT show how arbitrarily the discom officials were making changes in the tariff order just to jack up revenue to get 'a pat' from their bosses. For example, the consumers were forced to pay minimum charges for which there was no provision.
That such changes in tariff structure were being done brazenly can be gauged from the fact that the officials concerned issued circulars in this regard. For example, the then DGM (distribution), Mathura, UK Gupta had on March 31, 2006 issued one such circular. It said, "The consumers whose meters are recording low energy consumption will be liable to pay for a minimum of 104 units per kw and the meter status in the first bill will be shown as ADF (advance defective) and IDF (defective) in the subsequent bills," directed Gupta in his circular no 1994.
In another circular no 1478 issued on March 6, 2006, the same official ordered that consumers who lived in a two-room house and whose consumption was low due to defective meters would be charged at the rate of 60 units per kw and the meter would be shown to be defective.
Likewise, consumers with three-room house would be charged for a minimum of 100 units per kw, ruled Gupta.
Surprisingly, Gupta's orders continue to be in effect even till date despite various complaints in this regard. The Upbhokta Sangracchan Kalyan Samiti, Brandavan had been effectively raising this issue with various forums. In a complaint to the UPERC, Samiti secretary, Shashi Bhushan Mishra pointed out that as per the tariff decided by the Commission, domestic consumers were supposed to pay Rs 50 per kw as fixed charges plus the amount for units consumed and there was no provision for minimum charges.
He further said if meters were really defective in some cases, it was for the department to change them. "But it has no authority to apply any blanket rule," Mishra said adding, "Even the Delhi High Court has ruled that the Regulatory Commission alone was competent to decide the tariff or make any changes therein." He demanded refund of the money with interest to the consumers who had been illegally charged.
UPERC chairman, Vijoy Kumar admitted to receiving complaints about the Agra discom implementing its own tariff. "We are concerned about it and have appointed a three-member sub-committee that will visit Agra and give its report. "The Commission may take action including cancellation of the discom's license, if it was found guilty of tampering with the tariff decided by the Commission," Kumar said. But appointed on December 19, 2006, the sub-committee is taking its own time in visiting Agra even as the consumers continued to be cheated.