Srinagar: The J&K Power Development Department (PDD), which is yet to replace electric meters damaged by last year’s floods, has now been over-charging affected households, compared to monthly tariffs last year.
Residents of many flood-hit areas told Kashmir Reader that before the floods their monthly bill would be around Rs 300-Rs 400, but now they are being charged Rs 700 per month by the PDD.
“Most of the electricity meters installed in our area were either completely damaged in the floods or display wrong readings. The meters have not been repaired or replaced. When we were metered, we paid Rs 400 but now we pay Rs 700 as a flat rate,” said Ali Mohammad, a resident of Jawahar Nagar.
Locals often resisted the hike and asked authorities to install new meters and charge them accordingly. However, the department actually told people to buy meters on their own if they want to be charged according to a meter reading.
“We informed officials about the bills being sent to us based on readings from the faulty meters, we requested them to either repair or replace the meters, but they did not heed our requests,” said Shabir Ahmad, a resident of Wazir Bagh.
Chief Engineer PDD Kashmir Division Bashir Ahmad Khan told Kashmir Reader that the delay in replacing the meters was due to a lack of funds, however, he added that the department has received some funds and now the meters would be replaced within three months.
“We faced an infrastructure loss of hundreds of crores in the floods. In this regard, the department has already submitted a detailed project report (DPR) to the government. The department has now received some funds and the tendering process has started. Within three months, I hope, the meters would be replaced,” Bashir said.
Asked why the department asked consumers to buy meters with their own money, Bashir said the department was “bound” to do it. “We have to follow a system to get the meters replaced. But consumers were forcing us to install them as per their demand. The floods damaged around 40,000-50,000 meters, and it is not easy to replace them. We had no choice but to tell people to buy meters on their own,” he added.