File photo of people waiting in queues to pay electricity bills at DPDC office in Azimpur, Dhaka Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune
Power distribution companies had compiled the bills for three months, instead of charging them separately, leading to the overbilling
The Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) has suspended four officials, including one executive engineer, following an internal investigation into the faulty electricity bills that has been plaguing the consumers since last month.
Based on the investigation report, submitted on Friday, the company has also show-caused every executive engineer of 36 Network Operation and Customer Services (NOCS) offices, asking them to respond within 10 days, and transferred two chief engineers, Bangla Tribune has found.
Meanwhile, Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited (Desco) has withdrawn two metre readers and show-caused seven officials.
Consumers for the past two months have been complaining about overbilling by the power distribution companies, based on which the Power Division formed two investigation committees on June 25 and asked them submit their findings in seven days.
Most of the complaints were found against DPDC, which formed another probe team recently. This team had submitted its report on Friday, which led to the company’s decisions on Saturday.
The Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources Ministry on March 22, just before the government imposed a “soft nationwide lockdown” on March 26, announced that household consumers will not have to pay the monthly bills — for March, April and May — within the deadline, and for that, they will not face any fines.
However, in June, it said the facility will not be extended after June 30 and failure to pay bills within June 30 would also lead to line disconnections.
Meanwhile, in May, most customers received ghost bills to the point of extortion.
Power distribution companies had compiled the electricity bills for three months, instead of charging them separately for each month, leading to the overbilling.
Sources at these companies said some consumers were overbilled to “balance” the budget deficits of these companies. Preparing the bills without proper readings was also a major factor behind the ghost or faulty bills.
As the companies compiled bills for three months, customers had to face bills on higher slabs which are higher than their usual bills.
Currently, there are six slabs or tiers of electricity pricing. With every higher slab, higher fees are charged for electricity consumed. As the bills for three months were compiled at a time instead of being based on monthly meter readings, the overall charges were also higher.
The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) law does not even allow billing customers for three months at a time.
More to follow…