Jammu: Scores of power consumers held a protest here on Wednesday against the decision of the Jammu and Kashmir administration to install prepaid smart meters.
The protesters also blocked the highway for nearly two hours, alleging that smart meter users in Jammu were receiving exorbitant bills amounting to thousands of rupees.
Meanwhile, officials said two smart meters installed by the Jammu Power Distribution Corporation Ltd (JPDCL) caught fire in Dontallah Bazar and Pir Mitha areas in the city under circumstances raising suspicions.
People hailing from different parts of the city travelled to Vikram Chowk in mini-buses. Their assembly led to the highway being obstructed. During the protest, anti-BJP and anti-administration slogans were chanted, and a demand was made to halt the ongoing meter installation exercise.
“We are demanding the process to install pre-paid smart meters as people, on whose houses smart meters have been implemented, are getting bills in thousands of rupees, said Amit Kapoor, who led the protest.
Police responded by using force to return the protesters to the mini-buses, subsequently restoring traffic flow.
Kapoor asserted that they were against the current approach to installing prepaid smart meters due to the burden of hefty bills on households where these meters had been implemented.
He said that they will not allow the government to install the meters as this is leading to people getting inflated bills.
An official underplayed concerns about potential overcharging, asserting that the notion of overcharging through smart meters was “unfounded and aimed at misleading the public”. He asserted that the “precision and automation” of smart meters are advantageous for the public.
“The government has deputed nodal officers for redressal of grievances of the public in this regard. People should have no doubts and reservations over the issue,” he told reporters here.
The official emphasized that the shift to smart meters is aimed at creating a more efficient and financially stable power setup, reducing substantial losses for the power department.