03 July 2004, Hindustan Times

CONSUMER GROUPS across the State have criticised the draft of the Rajasthan Electricity Bill, 2004 for “ignoring” the concerns of rural consumers.

Issues pertaining to quality of Services provided to rural and agricultural Consumer have been overlooked, various consumer groups have said.

The groups feel the tariff must be linked to the quality of supply offered to a category of Consumers. A rural consumer getting erratic supply with poor voltage should not be charged equal to his counterpart in cities like Jaipur where far better supplies and services are maintained.

Over 25 Consumers groups have expressed these views in response to a survey conducted by the CUTS, an NGO dealing with consumer affairs. The organization has sent a detailed memorandum to the State Government demanding incorporation of suggested improvements in the draft.

The draft has also been criticised for having a provision that calls for the consumer to pay for the maintenance of Discom’s infrastructure in case he is seeking a new connection.

Provided that the farmers mostly get supply during nights, which helps the distribution companies maintain their load-curve flat, the draft should provide for taking into account parameters like time of supply and quality of supply as decisive factors for tariff determination.

The consumer groups have also disapproved the decision of not imposing penalties if the services with agreed standards.

Time bound provisions have been made for “open access” to protect the interest of industrial consumers whereas in the case of rural consumers there is insufficient mention without necessary elaborations, said CUTS official George Cheriyan.