Adani billing scam: College girls face three days of hell for not paying inflated bills

Updated: Dec 18, 2018, 17:09 IST | Sanjeev Shivadekar and Chetna Yerunkar

Adani billing scam >> Power bill for one bedroom house shared by four students shoots up from Rs 900 to Rs 70,000; as they contest it, power giant cuts off their supply

Adani billing scam: College girls face three days of hell for not paying inflated bills
The girls had moved into the apartment in July, but last month was the first time they were charged so much. Pic/Sneha Kharabe

These have been dark days for four college students living a Khar building. They were first slapped with a power bill of Rs 71,540 for two months by Adani Power and then had the connection cut off.

Then, when they tried to protest, they were forced to live in the dark after their power was cut by Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited. The power supply was restored last evening, only after the girls agreed to clear the dues. Even though their power was restored on Monday, the girls still remain in the dark about why they were charged so much.

The four girls - Zoha Khan, Khusbu Jain, Khushboo Blindani and Disha Raj - had moved into the apartment in Sindhu Dhara building in July. For the first two months, they claim they received electricity bills of around Rs 1,000.

The girls have been cooking and studying by candlelight for three days. Pic/Sneha Kharabe
The girls have been cooking and studying by candlelight for three days. Pic/Sneha Kharabe

Then, last month, they received a big jolt when they got a power bill of Rs 59,000 - an increase of 5,800 per cent. Their apartment has two air conditioners, a fridge, washing machine and other basic equipment such as lights and fans.

"Until recently, we used to get bills below Rs 1,000. We were shocked to see such a high bill. We complained to the company, and they checked our meter. But this month, Rs 11,000 was added to that bill, adding up to a total of Rs 71,540," said Zoha, is a student at Jai Hind College. Like her, Khushbu and Khushboo are students Jai Hind, while Disha is an engineering student at Father Agnel Technical College. Three of the girls hail from Jaipur, while the fourth, Khushboo, is from Dahanu.

Khushboo Bilandani,  Zoha Khan and Khushbu Jain
Khushboo Bilandani,  Zoha Khan and Khushbu Jain

Flashback
mid-day had earlier reported that ever since AEML took over Reliance Energy's power distribution business, several suburban citizens had complained of steep hikes in their bills, around 15 to 20 per cent higher than usual. In fact, this paper's coverage caught the attention of the Chief Minister, who ordered a probe by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission. Other political parties also staged protests.

'No option but to pay'
After three nights of studying by candlelight, they gave in. On Monday, they approached the customer care centre for Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML) in Bandra East. "We tried to tell the power officials that it is not possible to get such a high power bill. But no one listened to us. We have no relatives in the city to take up our case. Finally, with no option left, we agreed to pay the first installment of Rs 40,000, and will make the remaining payment within a week," said Zoha. The owner of the flat, Rajulal Motwani, an advocate by profession, wrote a complaint letter to Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML), to no avail.

The other side
AEML spokersperson said. "It's sad that AEML's positive efforts are not being recognised. We served the correct bill, while in the past, the correct amount wasn't being correctly charged. We immediately restored the connection when the students agreed to their consumption pattern and agreed to pay in installments."

"It's a case of monthly average consumption of about 1,000 units in the last five months, with two air conditioners and a washing machine, besides all other gadgets at home. After our engineers demonstrated the consumption to the customers, the girls had no issue and agreed to pay the outstanding amount," the spokesperson added.

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