Monday, December 27, 2010

Power v/s power! (Might against Right)

On 24th Dec, 2010 afternoon, there was a gush of excess voltage in certain parts of Mira Road by our very own- Reliance Power. This resulted in spoilage of electronic and electrical equipments in many houses in our building. We, have never experienced such a thing in our entire lives. As my Mom was using the mixer to grind masala, the device went 'boom' and caught fire inside the jar! Simultaneously, the television set went 'dhooom'!!! One fan in the house, stopped and started moving backwards. Its motor's gone bad and doesn't provide cool breeze any more!!! While we were lucky to get our TV and mixer repaired and set right and had to do with coarsely ground gravy for the day, some of the people in our building lost their more expensive electronic items. The computer in one household got damaged! We were thankfully not using ours that very moment! Only one side of our building was affected by this generosity of Reliance! We unexpectedly have to incur the cost of buying a new fan and a mixer-grinder.

I wonder -what if my 9 month old nephew would've got hurt and my Mom would've got an electric shock!? In any country valuing human lives, one could have sued the company and claimed their compensation for loss incurred and emotional stress. But in India, we've learnt to bear, crib and forget. The mentality that 'common man is born to suffer' is instilled into us through writers, cartoonists and our very own personal experiences of unfair justice between classes and masses. Recently a man, who hurt himself when a fire-extinguisher fell on him while travelling by an Indian Airlines plane, got only Rs 1500/- as compensation (that too after more than a year), while he had claimed a larger amount! He might have incurred higher expenses to fight the case!

When Indian Airlines got away, Reliance is still bigger fry. Only an Ambani can use excess electric power (that too at BEST rates) in their new home, while the government and NGOs keep urging the common man to 'save energy'. In contradiction, we also have big malls and shopping centres illuminated and consuming extra-electricity all over the country. It seems like the entire responsibility of the nation alongwith high-prices is on the shoulders of the common man. Here, you find the poor and middle-class paying more than their capacity on electricity bills, foodgrains, fuel and taxes, while the higher your income, you enjoy many privileges and fringe benefits. A rich entity (individual or group) enjoys rebates in commission and lower interest rates everywhere and even manages to escape heavy tax burden, thus using less of his/ their earnings! And a common man has to account for every penny he earns and is expected to spend beyond his earning capacity!!!

Coming back to the 'power' story, people living beyond the BEST electricity supply limits in Mumbai are subject to enormous bills. Sometimes, no proper justification of variation in bills across months is provided. And Reliance itself buys electricity from Tata Power and supplies to us at higher rates. Why can't Tata Power supply us electricity directly at cheaper rates? Recently there was a survey carried out by Tata and many people were for it. People will welcome the change. Only competition can keep companies on their heels and urge them to provide the best of services with lesser consumer complaints!

We, the common men and women of the country (who form a large number of consumers), need proper redressal forums to address our complaints and needs!
After posting this article - Next day I came to know Tata Power had distributed forms in certain parts of Mumbai for those who'd wish to purchase electricity directly from them!


Vartaman said...

Hi, I happened to read your blog by chance. What I beleave is only when you make noise will you be heard in today's world. Not sure how much this would help but try raising your voice thru the below mentioned website

I have seen faster response from companies when you tweet abt the company on Tweeter. Good luck

sk said...

Shagufta, that's really pathetic. If such a thing is happening in Mumbai suburbs, then imagine what the situation is like in the rest of the country.
The country where I'm staying currently has an excellent pre-paid system for power. We have a small box with key-pads in each house. We go to the electricity office and after payment we get a recharge number. We key in this number in the box (just like mobile pre-paid recharge) and then we recieve the kW power we paid for. This system is really great. I don't know how the Reliance power payment system is in India. The normal billing system for power in India is very difficult for me to understand and often we are at the mercy of the guys sitting in the electricity office.

Shagufta said...

Thanks Vartaman for stopping by. Ur suggestions are appreciated too. But in India, fighting consumer battles needs time and money, often with no results.
And especially in Mumbai, most time is spent travelling and at work. Can't take holidays for such things. But I do make it a point to highlight such things, wherever possible.

Shagufta said...

Nice to see u back on my blog, Sk. Some stuff that I write, may scare people to comment on my blog. Heh heh!
But the billing system you're talking of seems great! If I am not wrong, u're working in UAE, right? And talking of that place. Here, public or pvt company, you have to go and pay your bill or drop it at some collection centre, if such a service is provided.
Reliance has online payment also, but till some days prior to validity.
But that again cannot help in the way they charge people, and suddenly charge everyone higher in some months in the name of arrears and without explanation (maybe to cover some of their company losses)

sk said...

Shagufta, I can understand the problem. I was always under the impression that with the coming of private companies in the power sector, things are going to improve. But you know the realities better.

All these days, I was quite busy. But you are almost like my old friend ever since I started following your blog. I often used to go through your blogs (though without comments).
By the way, I'm not in UAE.