It's a double whammy for industrialists in the royal city. As if the unscheduled and long power cuts this summer were not enough, the electricity bills were also giving them sleepless nights.
Several businessmen in the city have complained of receiving inflated electricity bills this month from the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL).
A businessman, M/s Manmeet Industries in the Focal Point area, has received a whopping electricity bill of Rs 5.5 crore for the month of June. Ironically, the annual turnover of his company is only Rs one crore.
In another case, M/s Rajiv Garg has received a bill of Rs 3.5 crore for June. "Our normal monthly electricity bill varies between Rs 50,000 to Rs 80,000," said Garg.
The shocking amount forced Garg to abandon his workplace. He spent three days at PSPCL offices to rectify the error, knowing that once the bill date was over, he would have to pay the surcharge too.
The surcharge amount is 10% of the bill and it takes a lengthy and complicated procedure to waive it off even if the bill were incorrect. In Garg's case, the surcharge would have amounted to Rs 35 lakh, which is almost four times than his annual electricity bill.
To avoid paying the surcharge, the industrialists are being forced to spend extra time to rectify their bill in time.
KK Bansal of M/s Native Alloy got so harassed that he termed it as a clear case of blackmailing. "Each time I got an inflated bill, the PSPCL officials told me to make the payment saying they would adjust the overcharged amount in the next billing cycle, which they did not. How much money they want from us? We also have limited working capital. And if we fail to pay the bill before the due date, they impose surcharge, which takes a tangled process to be remitted," said Bansal.
The PSPCL engineers, when contacted, were well aware of the problem. They blamed it on the SAP software in the billing system. Designed by the SPANCO company, the software was introduced about four months back. "There are several technical glitches due to which people are getting inflated electricity bills," said an engineer.
He said in the previous software, the computer used to automatically draw attention of engineers in case it noticed huge variation in the billing amount. "The present software does not have this function. Also, the entire control is in private hands. They are causing harassment to consumers and embarrassment to PSPCL," he said.