“We never had a light connection. On whose name are we getting the electricity bill?” asks Sonsa Paraste from Chhirpani village of Madhya Pradesh. Through this statement, Sonsa is echoing the complaints of at least 7 families in his village where 300 residents belonging to an indigenous tribal community reside.
Electricity was disconnected due to non-payment of bills in this village, in March 2016. Recalling the events of 2015, residents share that a total of 15 families were given connection back then. However, 8 families out of these have been receiving bills since 2008. These bills come in big figures, sometimes even up to Rs.10,000. However, these people who have huge amounts as dues against their names, do not have any evidence proving that electricity has been consumed. On the other hand, the other families suffer as they do not receive any bills at all.
In 2005, the Government of India set up ambitious plans to bring electricity to about 1,25,000 villages through the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Scheme. However 44.7% rural household in India still don’t have access to electricity. Low-level corruption and the lack of decentralised electricity grids are among the most common bottlenecks in the implementation of this scheme.
For example, given this instance of bogus electricity bills, according to a report published by Live mint titled “Corruption in electricity services: Poor state”, The major reason for most of the people to visit electricity offices is bill-related, including excess and non-receipt of the bill. People also visit electricity departments over connection-related issues as well as due to an oversupply of electricity. This report shows how corruption steals common man off his right to basic infrastructure and amenities.
Hence this story is very important as through this video, Community Correspondent Saroj Paraste along with the residents of Chhirpani village appeal for these bills to be waived, individual bills to be sent to all consumers every month and for regular readings to be taken by the concerned authorities.