Nagpur: Hefty power bills have prompted the hapless power consumers to stop paying bills. Power franchisee SNDL, which has been in the news ever since it hiked the tariff resulting in full pressure over power bills, has now started feeling the pinch of its tariff hike. The company is struggling with serious revenue crunch owing to the major chunk of unpaid bills for the last six months.
SNDL data shows that the bill collection efficiency has reduced by 7% from 99% to 92% within six months because a large number of consumers have stopped paying bills.
According to sources in SNDL, there are about 52,000 consumers who have not been paying their bills. This includes 28,000 consumers, who have not paid for over a year. The franchisee is incurring a loss of between Rs 2 crore and Rs 2.5 crore per month due to such consumers. The total arrears owed by such consumers has reached Rs 33 crore against a monthly collection of about Rs 100 crore.
Of the 5.22 lakh SNDL consumers, only 2.75 lakh pay their bills every month. Some 1.95 lakh consumers pay them every two to three months while over 50,000 which is almost 10% of the total consumer base, have stopped paying altogether.
A SNDL spokesperson said these consumers were located in pockets like Mominpura, Kamptee Road, Lashkaribagh, etc. “The reason for non-payment is increase in power tariff. It was hiked last August but consumers felt the pinch during summer months. The defaulters feel we are inflating the bills and we have a difficult time convincing them that we have no role in deciding the tariff.”
The spokesperson further said SNDL staffers did not enjoy the legal protection enjoyed by MSEDCL staffers. “It is an offence to obstruct government working but when consumers beat up our people, the only option we have is to lodge a simple police complaint,” he added.
SNDL has taken several measures to increase collection. They include holding 20 service camps every month, five sensitization camps every month with the help of local politicians, pay and win prizes contest from October 16 and setting up a dedicated resolution desk at Chhapru Nagar and four zonal offices.
The company will take some hard steps too. They include mass disconnection drives for consumers who have not paid for more than two months and keeping track of disconnected consumers. The company has issued legal notices to 9,675 consumers while 200 consumers with total outstanding of Rs 3 crore were called to Lok Adalat for resolution. Court summons are being issued to consumers whose cheques had bounced.