Chitralis complain about overbilling by Pesco

30 May, 2018

CHITRAL: The Peshawar Electric Supply Company consumers here have complained about overbilling based on ‘fictitious’ meter reading as Pesco has only two meter readers and no bill distribution mechanism for its 17,000 consumers in Chitral district.

Talking to reporters on Tuesday, Jughoor village council nazim Sajjad Ahmed Khan said due to unavailability of bill distributors, the power bills of a village were delivered at the local mosque for the people to collect from there. He said that way more than half of the bills did not reach the consumers.

He said 22 meter readers were required for Chitral district where presently only two were operating, with each having to cover 8,000 consumers which was not humanly possible.

“I know many consumers who have received inflated bills which is hundred times their actual consumption and their power connections were disconnected due to non-payment,” the village nazim said, adding almost all the consumers faced excessive billing problems and thus paid Pesco more than what their consumption was.

Ahmed Khan lamented that being a commercial organisation Pesco should employ the necessary field staff to ensure actual meter reading and timely bill distribution.

Salahuddin from Denin area told Dawn that the company had sent him a bill of 1,825 units, which was more than his actual consumption during the current month. He said the Pesco’s sub-divisional officer cross-checked the meter and found the units exaggerated, but despite that he did not bring down the extra units, saying it was beyond his power.

He said sending excessive power bills was a crime with a three years imprisonment as per ‘Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (amendment) Bill, 2018, passed by the National Assembly in March this year.

“I will go to the local police station to invoke this law against the Pesco officers,” he said.

When contacted, Pesco’s acting SDO Junaid Khan admitted the fact that the sub-division was being run with a staff of 40 against the sanctioned posts of 120. He also admitted that for each 800 consumers, there must be one meter reader in the plain areas and the number of consumers in a bracket for meter reading decreased in hilly areas like Chitral.

He said a meter reader hardly found an opportunity to reach a consumer twice a year and thus power bills could not be sent showing actual consumption of electricity by a consumer and that there was no other option than dropping the bills of a village in mosque for shortage of bill distributors.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2018