Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], July 5 (ANI): N Uttam Kumar Reddy, president, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC), has written a letter to Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao requesting to waive-off electricity bills for entire lockdown period for BPL families, MSMEs.
In the letter, the TPCC chief stated, "The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been causing devastation across the world, including Telangana. All sections of the society were badly affected in one way or other due to coronavirus or due to the lockdown imposed by the government to prevent the spread of deadly virus. Life has completely changed for each and every individual and today we are living in circumstances which occur once in a century. Therefore, the governments across the world have been changing their priorities so as to help their citizens."
Reddy said that the "Government of Telangana appears to be in no mood to change its approach towards citizens."
"No measures are being taken to ease out the burden from people who were affected due to prolonged lockdown for a period of over two months. Crores of people were affected, lakhs of people have lost their jobs and thousands are on the verge of facing starvation-like situations. Every single individual, family, institution, commercial firm, private business houses and industries are still under the negative impact of lockdown," read the letter.
He added, "The state government cannot deny the fact that it has failed to prevent the spread of coronavirus during the last three months. The norm 'Trace, Test and Treat' called by the World Health Organisation (WHO) was not implemented in letter and spirit and therefore, today we witnessed a record number of new cases every day. At one side, the state government failed to contain the COVID-19, on the other, it is trying to put additional financial burden on the common people."
Reddy said that the electricity bills given to consumers in the month of June were "highly unjustified."
"The bills were not only inflated and exorbitant, but were prepared in an erroneous manner. Of 95 lakh power consumers in Telangana, nearly 75 lakh are in the domestic category and almost 80 per cent of them consume below 200 units per month. They are primarily divided in three categories based on their consumption," Reddy wrote.
"While 0-100 units fall in Category-1; 100-200 units are in Category II and 200 units and above fall into Category - III. The tariff per unit is based on consumption and Telangana State Electricity Regulatory Commission (TSERC) has approved the tariff for monthly basis. However, in violation of TSERC guidelines, the TSSPDCL has generated bills based on overall consumption done in 90 days. Consequently, the consumers have been asked to pay Rs 9 per unit instead of regular Rs 4.3 per unit due to change in category based on total number of units consumed in 90-day period," he added.
Reddy said that despite lakhs of consumers raising complaints about errors in their electricity bills, neither the TSSPDCL nor the Energy Department took any corrective measures.
He claimed that instead, the consumers were threatened with disconnection if they didn't pay the inflated and wrong bills on time.
"No complaints were entertained and the objections raised by the Congress and other opposition parties were completely ignored. Even today, a majority of consumers do not pay the bills served to them last. In the present circumstances, not many of them will be able to clear the dues even if they are given an option of paying instalment as most of them have lost their sources of livelihood," Reddy said.
"Therefore, we request you to kindly announce 100 per cent waiver of electricity bills for the lockdown period for the people Below Poverty Line. While the power bills of all White Ration Card holders should be waived off completely, the bill amount for others should be reduced appropriately by rectifying all the mistakes in the billing methods," he added.
Similarly, he stated that the power bills, including fixed, minimum and regular charges, of all Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) should also be waived off by 100 per cent for the lockdown as they could not carry out any commercial activity during the lockdown period.
"A majority of MSMEs are yet to restore their activities due to lack funds, demand and other factors. Ideally, the state government should have conducted a study on the impact of lockdown on the business, especially the MSME sector and should've announced a relief package. However, the Congress party request the government to provide some relief to the MSMEs by waiving off their electricity bills for the lockdown period," he wrote.
Reddy further noted that the Congress party will hold a statewide protest on Monday ,July 6, to highlight these demands. (ANI)