The Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom), which has been firefighting accusations from some consumers that it issued inflated bills, is now facing complaints from owners of temporary connections who say that they have been billed for the lockdown months.
Individual house owners, who had to halt construction work because of the shutdown, said they were being forced to pay for the days during which there was no construction activity.
“I’m building a house in Nandini Layout and I had taken a temporary connection of 5 kW. But when the lockdown was announced, we had to stop work. Site owners also took care of the construction workers during that period. But I still had to pay ₹9,000 for 58 days,” said Janardhan (name changed on request), a site owner, adding that the government has announced relief for most sections, but not people like him who are being billed though they haven’t used electricity.
Another site owner, who wished anonymity, said he took a temporary connection last September to construct his house. “I had to pay ₹4,000 for the two lockdown months. We checked with the subdivision offices, but Bescom officials are saying they have no order on this,” he said.
Chandru, another site owner, said they had no option but to pay as the house was nearing completion. “We hadn’t even switched on the motor. But I had 5 kW sanctioned, so I ended up paying a hefty amount. Now, the house is nearly complete and I didn’t want to get into any argument,” he said.
What Bescom says
Bescom officials, however, maintained that there was no concession announced for temporary customers by the government. “Those who opt for temporary connections take it for four weeks, and they need to renew it if they want to extend it. It is not a monthly billing cycle. The Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) has fixed weekly minimum charges or energy charges as tariff, whichever is higher. For a week, for 1 kW connection, they are supposed to pay ₹110. The maximum period is of two years. There is no provision for concession for temporary customers either in the rules from the government, though the government has announced some relief for permanent consumers,” a senior official explained.