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Faulty ASEB billing comes to light

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, March 21 � At a time when the ASEB has sought to act tough on erring consumers, shocking facts have now emerged how it has been charging and billing some the biggest consumers in the government sector for several years.

Data acquired by Consumer�s Legal Protection Forum (CLPF) after an RTI application has pinpointed the ASEB�s failure to properly record and charge electricity consumption of the State Secretariat, State Guest House Number 1, State Assembly, and the Governor�s official residence.

�It is bizarre how the important offices and residences have been charged, as bills show several discrepancies. It is surely different from the way, the common person is charged for her or his energy usage,� said Ajay Hazarika, co-ordinator of CLPF. �The bills show that the government consumers are beyond the norms of the Assam Electricity Regulatory Commission,� he added.

For instance, in a bill with the consumer name Secretary GAD, of March 07, the meter reading appears bizarre. The present meter reading is AV, while the previous reading and difference in reading are simply absent.

In another bill in the name of Assembly Secretariat, there are no figures available for difference in reading, or previous reading. The present meter reading is again mentioned as AV.

Further questions are raised by a detailed billing statement of the State Secretariat. During 2007, the units consumed for January, February, April, June, July, August, September, October and November are precisely the same � 540537.9, while March and December figures are alike � 558555.83. Interestingly, 540537.9 units were also consumed in the months of July, August, September and December of 2006. This comes as a surprise to all those who know that energy use keeps changing in different seasons of the year, and consumption of electricity cannot be the same during summer and winter.

According to the CLPF, the facts make it abundantly clear that in all the four places, which enjoy uninterrupted power supply, there have been no accurate measurement and billing of the electricity consumed. What the information reveals is a farce in the name of billing, the forum stated.

Hazarika further mentioned that acquiring the information through the RTI provision was not an easy task. �We did not get the information at first, it was only after the Central Information Commission issued a directive that the required data was handed over in March this year. The first application was filed way back on July 6, 2009.

He said that the gross irregularities in billing in the four places could not be isolated instances. Similar violations of rules and regulations must be taking place in scores of other government assets, ultimately wasting tax payers� money.

When contacted, ASEB Chairman AK Sachan said that all the four are bulk consumers and therefore are not billed like individual consumers. But he acknowledged that consumption of units cannot be the same in various months spread over a year. The senior official said that he would check the reported anomalies and take necessary steps.

The CLPF said that unless digital meters were installed in all Government establishments, and accurate readings of meters were the basis of billing, the ASEB should not raise power tariffs, a step that it is contemplating.

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Faulty ASEB billing comes to light

GUWAHATI, March 21 � At a time when the ASEB has sought to act tough on erring consumers, shocking facts have now emerged how it has been charging and billing some the biggest consumers in the government sector for several years.

Data acquired by Consumer�s Legal Protection Forum (CLPF) after an RTI application has pinpointed the ASEB�s failure to properly record and charge electricity consumption of the State Secretariat, State Guest House Number 1, State Assembly, and the Governor�s official residence.

�It is bizarre how the important offices and residences have been charged, as bills show several discrepancies. It is surely different from the way, the common person is charged for her or his energy usage,� said Ajay Hazarika, co-ordinator of CLPF. �The bills show that the government consumers are beyond the norms of the Assam Electricity Regulatory Commission,� he added.

For instance, in a bill with the consumer name Secretary GAD, of March 07, the meter reading appears bizarre. The present meter reading is AV, while the previous reading and difference in reading are simply absent.

In another bill in the name of Assembly Secretariat, there are no figures available for difference in reading, or previous reading. The present meter reading is again mentioned as AV.

Further questions are raised by a detailed billing statement of the State Secretariat. During 2007, the units consumed for January, February, April, June, July, August, September, October and November are precisely the same � 540537.9, while March and December figures are alike � 558555.83. Interestingly, 540537.9 units were also consumed in the months of July, August, September and December of 2006. This comes as a surprise to all those who know that energy use keeps changing in different seasons of the year, and consumption of electricity cannot be the same during summer and winter.

According to the CLPF, the facts make it abundantly clear that in all the four places, which enjoy uninterrupted power supply, there have been no accurate measurement and billing of the electricity consumed. What the information reveals is a farce in the name of billing, the forum stated.

Hazarika further mentioned that acquiring the information through the RTI provision was not an easy task. �We did not get the information at first, it was only after the Central Information Commission issued a directive that the required data was handed over in March this year. The first application was filed way back on July 6, 2009.

He said that the gross irregularities in billing in the four places could not be isolated instances. Similar violations of rules and regulations must be taking place in scores of other government assets, ultimately wasting tax payers� money.

When contacted, ASEB Chairman AK Sachan said that all the four are bulk consumers and therefore are not billed like individual consumers. But he acknowledged that consumption of units cannot be the same in various months spread over a year. The senior official said that he would check the reported anomalies and take necessary steps.

The CLPF said that unless digital meters were installed in all Government establishments, and accurate readings of meters were the basis of billing, the ASEB should not raise power tariffs, a step that it is contemplating.