Hyderabad: Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) President and Nalgonda MP Capt. N. Uttam Kumar Reddy strongly condemned the silence of Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao on the inflated and erroneous electricity bills served over 95 lakh power consumers and demanded a 100 per cent waiver of power bills for BPL families for the lockdown period.
He was speaking to media persons after submitting a memorandum to the Chairman & Managing Director of TS TRANSCO at Vidhyut Soudha on Monday as part of the statewide ‘black flag and badge protest’ against the high electricity bills. Former Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council Mohammed Ali Shabbir, Hyderabad Congress Committee president M. Anjan Kumar Yadav, Youth Congress president Anil Kumar Yadav and other leaders were also present.
Uttam Kumar Reddy stated that Congress leaders and workers held a protest in front of electricity offices across Telangana State on Monday and submitted memorandums addressed to the Chief Minister demanding 100 per cent waiver of electricity bills for all BPL families and MSMEs for the entire lockdown period and shifting the billing method from the non-telescopic to telescopic method. He said that there were huge errors in the bills generated for the month of June wherein consumption for the entire 90-day period was taken into account at once. This method automatically pushed all the consumers into a higher slab and they got bills which are more than triple compared to the average bills they get every month. “This is nothing but organised loot, extortion and further exploitation of common people who are already hit due to an unplanned lockdown,” he alleged.
The TPCC Chief said that the power firms had started sending the inflated electricity bills to the people since the first week of June. Despite lakhs of complaints through various means, including social media, the Chief Minister did not react on the issue even once.
“How can the Chief Minister remain silent on a problem which has hit almost each and every household in the State? Minister K. Tarakarama Rao, who also happens to be the Working President of the ruling TRS party, himself admitted that he was the recipient of a large number of complaints on high power bills on his Twitter account and also assured that he would take up the issue. But a day later, Energy Minister Jagadish Reddy addressed a press conference justifying the inflated electricity bills and ruled out their withdrawal or even correction. They simply ignored all the complaints and started harassing the consumers to pay the erroneous and inflated bills while threatening them with disconnection for non-payment. This behaviour is highly shocking,” he said.
Uttam Kumar Reddy said that the common people, especially the BPL families, have lost their livelihoods during lockdown. He said poor people had no sources of income and depended on the free rice and financial assistance of Rs. 1500 provided to them by the government. They managed basic survival with great difficulty during the lockdown period. But as soon as the relaxations in lockdown were announced from June 1, they got the biggest shocker in the form of electricity bills. Those who got Rs. 1500 assistance during lockdown were asked to pay up to Rs. 5,000 towards the power they consumed during that period, he said.”
CM KCR should’ve reacted on this issue immediately. He must have taken action against the officials who are responsible for generating wrong bills. However, the Chief Minister remained silent for reasons best known to him. While some people managed to pay the bills, either fully or partly, a majority of consumers are yet to clear their dues and are now facing the threat of disconnection of power supply,” he said.
Uttam Kumar Reddy said that electricity was a basic necessity for all human beings, irrespective of their social or financial stature. He said people cannot simply survive without electricity for a long period. However, he said instead of making this commodity cheaper and easily accessible, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic, CM KCR is trying to earn profit for the power firms using wrong billing methods.
The TPCC demanded that the Chief Minister immediately convene the meeting of his Cabinet and take a decision to waive off electricity bills for all BPL families and all Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and reduce the amount significantly for other consumers. Further, he said that the government should adopt a telescopic method which will reduce the billing amount by almost 50 per cent for all consumers. He said people have now started getting bills for the month of June which shows huge arrears that people could not pay last month. He said normal life was not yet restored for anyone due to the COVID-19 situation and the state government should not add further economic burden for the common people.
Uttam Kumar Reddy threatened that the Congress party would intensify the agitation if the KCR Government failed to accept their demands and provide relief to the common people from the high electricity bills.