Power Minister James Sangma during question hour of Meghalaya Legislative Assembly- Autumn Session Credit: Meghalaya Legislative Assembly channel

Meghalaya minister in-charge of Power, James Sangma on Wednesday informed that the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government aims to introduce smart meters to achieve 100% billing efficiency.

Sangma was clarifying the issue of high-billing during the lockdown period was raised by MLA PT Sawkmie.

Sangma responded that to ensure issuing monthly bills to the consumers during the lockdown, MePDCL billed the consumers on an average based on six months consumption/last month’s bill. This was done because entry into the consumer homes was restricted due to lockdown.

“When it became possible to take the actual readings, it was observed that there occurred an increase in the bill of the consumers during the period as the billing period varies from 40-90 days. In certain cases where there is a discrepancy in terms of high billing, most of the issues have been resolved on a case-by-case basis as and when consumers approach the concerned Assistant Executive Engineers at the end of the lockdown period,” clarified Sangma.

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Sawkmie questioned if there was any proposal to waive off electricity bill from April – July.

To which Sangma said that during lockdown everyone went through a lot of difficulty and livelihood of many was affected. Only delayed payment charge was waived off which consumers incurred during the lockdown.

“MeECL is a corporation, and there are many liabilities that need to be taken care of many things like salaries which need to be paid to employees. Waiving off will have a big impact on MeECL,” said Sangma.

When asked about the revenue collected during April till September, Sangma failed to provide the details stating that he did not have the data at that moment.

MLA George Lyngdoh raised the issue of meters not working mainly in rural areas. Lyngdoh highlighted how consumers were unaware of it.

Lyngdoh asked if an exercise from MeECL was carried out to correct the meters. “Does this mean consumers can be made unaware and fleeced?” questioned Lyngdoh.

Sangma said that consumers are not being fleeced and that the government is seriously looking into the matter how to make billing efficient. “We are coming up with smart meters. After this introduction, we will be able to achieve 100% billing efficiency,” said Sangma.

Other MLAs also raised issues on the electricity issue happening in the state. Mayralborn Syiem highlighted the issue of how many villages living in the dark since transformers have not been fixed after they broke down. While MLA Ampareen Lyngdoh highlighted the need to bring in prepaid smart meters.

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