UPPCL staff still enjoying unmetered supply
The recent electricity tariff revision has brought into sharp focus yet again the contradictions that the state-run UP Power Corporation Ltd appears to have with regard to its concern about the unmetered use of electricity in the state and the consequent revenue losses.lucknow Updated: Dec 27, 2017 17:06 IST
The recent electricity tariff revision has brought into sharp focus yet again the contradictions that the state-run UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) appears to have with regard to its concern about the unmetered use of electricity in the state and the consequent revenue losses.
The corporation got the regulator to increase the power tariff for the unmetered rural domestic and agricultural farmers by as high as 70-150% at one go last fortnight to ‘encourage’ them to get metered supply and pay on the actual consumption basis. But the corporation had no plans at all to motivate the state’s one lakh unmetered power employees and pensioners to fall in line.
Other than Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh is the country’s only state that allows its power employees to enjoy the luxury of unmetered and hence unlimited and unaccounted use of electricity against the nominal fixed monthly charges even as all other domestic consumers are being forced to pay through the nose.
“There is no reason why power employees should be exempted from the legal compulsion of consuming electricity only through a working meter when all other unmetered consumers are being penalised,” a UPERC official said.
Significantly, the Electricity Act 2003 that everyone swears by clearly prohibits the unmetered use of electricity by any consumer and class of consumers.
Many people may not know that the average per unit energy charges that are realised from the highly-paid power employees are even less than the per unit tariff applicable to the below poverty line (BPL) or lifeline consumers in the state.
Under the current system continuing for decades, the power employees pay fixed monthly charges per connection, regardless of the amount of electricity they may consume. The charges vary from employee to employee depending on the grade they belong to.
A junior engineer, for example, is liable to pay only Rs 180 per connection, per month plus Rs 550 per air-conditioner during summer, if he honestly declares he is using an AC at all.
Uttar Pradesh Rajya Vidyut Abhiyanta Sangh general secretary Rajiv Kumar Singh defended the unmetered power supply to power employees.
“We use unmetered supply as a staff facility like many other organisations like the Railways and the Army provide various concessions to their employees,” he said, adding “Moreover, unmetered supply also gives us a sense of social respect.”
Countering the argument, Lokhit Manch president SP Khanna said power employees might claim concessional power from the regulator as a staff facility.“But they cannot be allowed unlimited and accounted for use of unmetered supply since it is prohibited by the law and more so when they are penalising others to force them to install meters at their premises,” he argued.
The unmetered supply, according to sources, is an emotional issue to the power employees and they see installation of meters at their residences as an insult to them. One more reason why they opposed metering tooth and nail, according to sources, is that installation of meters would reveal their actual consumption which many of them would never like to reveal for reasons like selling electricity to tenants from their connection.
These are the reasons that made the then chief secretary Neera Yadav order a drive more than a decade ago to install meters on the premises of powermen. But they took to the streets, short-circuiting the campaign.
A few engineers were so upset that they were publicly seen crying when a team reached to install meters at their colony in Aliganj, Lucknow.
“This is why the UPPCL management is overcautious about this issue as it knows that any move to forcibly install meters is bound to send power staff on a collision course affecting the preparations for the power for all initiative,” sources said.