India

Poor farmers of Bengal pay wrong power bills hoping electricity

Poor farmers of Bengal pay wrong power bills hoping electricity
Farmers pay wrong bills in Bengal

Kolkata: In the hope of getting electricity, poor farmers in a village, 200 kilometres from Kolkata, Manjhira, are paying the electricity bills without using a single unit of it.

Villagers thought that they would get electricity after a metre was installed in their houses eight years ago. A poor farmer, Hyder Ali’s was equipped with a metre only to give him a bill but no electricity was provided to him. But this month, after waiting for almost a decade, Ali received a bill for Rs 1,520 without using a single bulb.

Although the bill was wrong, he paid it hoping to get an electricity connection. “We have already paid the bill amount – without using a single unit of power – in the hope that the condition of our house and the area will change now,” the 45-year-old farmer told Hindustan Times.

He is among 30 households who have got a bill, five of which have already paid.

“An electricity meter was installed at our house about eight years ago. Thereafter, some poles were installed, but we never got connection. Seven days ago, the electricity office sent me a bill of Rs 2,185. But none has ever visited my house to connect the meter with an electric pole,” said Saira Bibi, another resident of the village.

The meters which were installed eight years ago are now covered with dirt and cobwebs. The biggest problems that village face in dark are locating poisonous snakes, apart from that students also suffer after sunset.

“It’s a matter of great shame. If anything like this has happened, I shall immediately take action,” power minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay told HT on Saturday.

All bills sum more than Rs 1,000 – when most of the households use just a tube light and fan, and an average bill should be around Rs 200.

The villagers say they have complained to the local electricity office many times, but in vain. Mubarak Hossain, the in-charge of the local office of the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company, refused to comment.