Dr Asangba Tzudir
With rapid urbanization and expansion of township, the demand for power has been on the rise. There has also been a steady rise in the use of electrical appliances especially Air conditioners in the last couple of years. At the backdrop is the failing infrastructure coupled with lack of adequate up-gradation which is only going to cause more power woes starting from the frequent power cuts to catastrophe.
Having said that, a pertinent issue which relates to the duty and responsibility of the consumers requires a serious check. Non-payment of electricity bills has become a serious moral issue. In consideration of the ongoing pandemic and to make payments of electricity bills easier, the Department of Power issued a press release for the general information of all consumers covered by IT billing and online payment facility. The new facility is called the “Trusted Consumer Meter Reading” in the DoPN web portal where a specific time slot from 1st to 10th of every month is being provided for the consumers to manually provide their own energy readings. Accordingly the department will make the bills for onward payment by the consumer.
The “Trusted Consumer Meter Reading” facility not only eases the process of bill payment but the department has also laid the trust on the consumers to provide the meter reading to calculate the units consumed. More often electricity bills are generated based on the last meter reading or calculated on an average, or randomly made leading to fluctuation in the amount, which more or less discourages the consumers to pay the bills because no one would like to pay more than what is actually being consumed, leave aside paying what is rightfully due.
However, though trust has been given, in order that the trust is not breached, the department can rather ask for a screen shoot of the meter box instead of simply having to punch in the meter reading in the web portal. This will enable transparency and better generation of revenues. Measures that are more stringent also need to be adopted to generate the desired revenue. There should be frequent checks of meter tampering and power theft. It is often discouraging even for those who pay their electricity bills religiously to see others who don’t even pay bills or who pay a lesser amount by way of the tampering meter box or simply by-passing the meter box.
With better physical monitoring of the meter boxes and power thefts, this latest “Trusted Consumer Meter Reading” facility is a very effective measure to make the process of paying electricity bills easy especially in this time of COVID-19 pandemic. Also the fact is that, this facility has enabled the consumers to pay only for what has been consumed provided the consumer submits the meter reading in the given stipulated time.
With electricity having made lives more easy and comfortable, the consumers should understand the moral responsibility and thereby bound by duty to pay the bills in time. Further, unless the consumers make it a point to pay the bills, the defaulters also do not have a right to raise complaints.
(Dr Asangba Tzudir contributes a weekly guest editorial to the Morung Express. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org)