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DERC hauls up discoms for making consumers foot bill for burnt meters
Complaints are being registered with the PG cell - Justice R C Chopra

May 25, 2009 Taking note of the gross violation by discoms of the laws set down by the regulatory body, Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC), on the issue of replacement of faulty meters, the Power Department’s Public Grievance Cell has sent out a terse warning to discoms to toe the line. 

In a letter addressed to all three Delhi discoms — BRPL, BYPL and NDPL — Justice R C Chopra, head of the Public Grievance Cell, wrote, “Numerous complaints are being registered with the PG cell regarding the replacement cost of burnt meters being charged by the discoms. In this connection, your attention is drawn to the rules which specify that the licensee shall bear the cost of the meter, if it is established, based on test results that the meter got burnt due to some technical reasons like voltage fluctuation attributable to system functioning.” 

Justice Chopra has, in his letter, quoted Rule 40 (b) of the DERC Supply Code and Performance Standards Regulations, 2007, wherein discoms have to be able to establish by way of standard tests that the meter was damaged by the consumer before they could pass on the cost for replacement to the consumer. 

If the discoms cannot establish that the fault lies with the consumer, the companies would have to bear the cost of replacement. “We’ve been getting several complaints in this regard. Recently, eight meters were burnt in a group housing society and the discom in question passed on the cost for all eight meters to the consumer. Upon investigating, we found that the damage to the meters was caused due to a short-circuit in the system which was not the fault of the consumers. Hence, I decided to issue this direction to the discoms,” Justice Chopra told Newsline. Replacing a standard electronic meter can cost anywhere between Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000. 

“Penalising the consumer without establishing that the meter got burnt due to the fault of the consumer does not stand administrative or judicial scrutiny. In any case bought before us, it has been found that the discoms have not attributed fault to the consumer while imposing the cost of replacement to the consumer. Benefit of doubt, if any, should always go in the favour of the consumer,” Justice Chopra’s letter reads. 

A Power department official said the problem crops up as most consumers are unaware of the law and their rights. 

“For instance, in Bangalore, all meters are installed at the consumer’s residence. In Delhi, however, the meters are installed mostly outside the consumer’s premises. How can a consumer then be held responsible for any damage to the meter?” the official asked. 

Justice R C Chopra
Delhi Power Grievance

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