Numerous complaints regarding electric connections provided by the Madhya Pradesh Paschim Kshetra Vidyut Vitaran (MPPKVV) have emerged from villages across Mhow tehsil. Most pertain to low voltage, excessive billing and forcible recovery of personal belongings by MPPKVV officials.
Yadunandan Patidar, a former sarpanch of Gawli Palasiya village, said it was impossible for rural consumers to pay inflated electricity bills because their earnings are low during the monsoon. “Electricity for agriculture is charged at a flat rate, but proper supply happens only late at night. This is most unsuitable for farmers,” he added.
Villagers across Mhow tehsil, including those from Kaloni, Yashwant Nagar, Sherpur, Harsola and Kalikiray, have also complained of MPPKVV recovery teams entering the houses of people with overdue bills to confiscate refrigerators, television sets, washing machines and two-wheelers. They mostly make an appearance after dark in the company of police and the local tehsildar, it was alleged.
However, MPPKVV divisional engineer MK Garg rejected claims that they were harassing villagers. “We confiscate items only from consumers whose dues exceed Rs 50,000, and show no interest in paying. I would also like to add that all actions are done lawfully, and no recovery is made after sunset.”
Besides this, domestic consumers across rural and urban areas have complained of being overcharged by the MPPKVV. They say that as the meter readers do not make regular appearances, the billing is done as per a calculated average that works against the interests of consumers.
Sanjay Agarwal, an activist with consumer welfare group Upbhokta Hit Prahari, believes that excessive billing indirectly leads to corruption. “When the bills are astronomical, many consumers end up paying bribes to settle their claims,” he said, accusing the MPPKVV of trying to compensate for its losses by “overcharging and cheating domestic consumers”.
According to Agarwal, commercial connections in rural areas are being charged on a par with urban rates – which are much higher.
The consumer activist also claimed that as the billing system is not completely computerised, the figure for units consumed shown seems much higher than the difference between the last two readings. “The MPPKVV even overcharges other government departments,” he said.
Mhow forest ranger SS Chauhan echoed Agarwal’s contention. “The local forest office’s electricity bill used to come up to around Rs 2,500 per month, but it has now risen drastically to Rs 23,000 or so. How can this be, considering that the place just has a fan, a few CFL lights and a computer? We have raised objections, but the MPPKVV is yet to offer a convincing explanation,” he said.
Chauhan also claimed to have problems with his monthly domestic electricity bill. “For the last six months, I have been getting bills of Rs 3,000 or more. When I complained, I was told that the previous occupant had not paid his dues. Why wasn’t I told about this earlier? My bill also shows that 920 units were consumed in February, whereas the actual consumption was only 500 units.”
Hari Agarwal, a member of Narnoulli panchayat, made a similar claim. “We were charged for 269 units in July, when the actual consumption was only 19 units. When we complain, they say they will look into the problem. But nothing really happens,” he said.
MPPKVV assistant engineer RK Dubey flatly denied the allegations. “There is no excess billing. We read meters regularly, and repair dysfunctional ones with immediate effect,” he said.