Hyderabad: The Congress party on Friday demanded that the Telangana Government waive off electricity and water bills for the entire lockdown period for all categories of consumers by utilising the funds received by CMRF towards Covid-19 relief works.
Hyderabad City Congress Minorities Dept Chairman Sameer Waliullah, in an open letter to Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao on Friday, demanded that the State Government provide relief to all the citizens by announcing a 100% waiver of electricity and water bills.
“The ongoing lockdown, which practically began on March 22, 2020, with the people voluntarily participating in “Janata Curfew” proposed by Prime Minister Narender Modi, has shattered the economy of our country and Telangana State. Not a single institution, commercial firm, private business houses, shop, vendor, family, institution, or even individual has remained unaffected due to the lockdown. Therefore, they must be given relief by waiving off the electricity and water bills,” he said.
Sameer Wailullah said that since there was no business or commercial activity, the private firms and companies had no revenues and therefore, they either laid off their employees or cut their salaries while some firms did both.
“People were forced to sit at their homes without any income and they exhausted their savings on food during the last two months. Most of the people had to borrow money from their relatives, friends, or neighbors for survival. There might be hardly a few people in the society who were unaffected due to lockdown. Since everyone consumed power and utilised water, they got their bills, in fact with a huge hike for the lockdown period. How will they pay for those bills now?” he asked.
The Congress leader said that the lockdown was totally unplanned and people were practically pulled into a trap.
“Originally we were requested to observe a total bandh for 14 hours across India and 24 hours in Telangana. When the call got a massive response, it was converted into a full-fledged lockdown from the next day and then we faced three phases of lockdown and night curfew now we are into the fourth phase till May 31. Originally, we all wanted to wage a strong battle against deadly Coronavirus and prevent its spread.
People thought that the government, both at the Centre and State, had a concrete plan to beat the virus and then lift the lockdown. However, even after two months, we seem to stand where we were exactly two months ago,” he said.
Sameer Waliullah said that the State Government’s move to provide 12 kg rice and Rs. 1500 financial assistance to those holding White Ration Card holders was appreciable although it is insufficient. Further, he pointed out that more than two-third of Telangana’s population belongs to middle-class.
Therefore, in normal circumstances, this middle-class segment does not expect anything from the government and instead it promptly pays taxes in various forms. But now the situation has changed and turned deplorable for all the classes in the society, especially middle-class, he said.
“We request you to kindly announce a 100% waiver of electricity and water bills for the lockdown period. People had no income since 22nd March 2020, and they will not be able to pay the power and water bills for their residences, offices, or shops. It was only from 19th May, that all shops, except those in Containment Zones, have been permitted to operate on an Odd-Even basis.
Therefore, it will take at least 5-6 months for the people to recover from the losses they incurred during the last two months. In these circumstances, the State Government should help all the people by announcing 100% waiver of power and water bills,” Sameer Wailullah demanded.
The Congress leader said that the State Government could compensate the energy firms and water board for the losses due to waiver from the huge donations it received towards Covid-19 relief works. Else, it can also adjust it from some other accounts as it did during a natural disaster, he said.