During the question hour of the fourth day of the Meghalaya Assembly Autumn Session 2020, James P.K Sangma, the Meghalaya Power Minister ceased waiving off the electricity bills during the lockdown time.
The state government, however have waived off delayed payment charges (DPC).
Sangma on his reply to a doubt raised by Congress MLA P.T Sawkmie, said that the MeECL has got “huge liabilities and has to take care of the salaries of the staff.”
A project to introduce smart meters for all consumers was approved by Asian Development Bank (ADB), he said.
Sangma said, “There is no question of bargaining as the tariff is not set by the MeECL but by the regulatory body. The tariffs are revised every year, and consumers can petition for revision by Meghalaya State Electricity Regulatory Commission.”.
For efficient billing, the State Government plans to have 100 per cent coverage of smart meters in the entire state. Sangma said, “The smart meters will also come with prepaid capabilities”.
Following Sangma’s response, Congress legislator Ampareen Lyngdoh stated if payment of bill by consumers would be at their doorsteps after the implementation of smart meters. Sangma in his response said that consumers would be able to pay their bills remotely.
“Serving of bills will become easy in terms of sending through SMS, email or WhatsApp. The role of meter readers will become redundant as the system will become seamless,” said Sangma.
“The permanent solution will come from technology like smart meters. There will be a transitional phase, but we foresee things will improve in a much better manner.”
On a question asked by Gambegre MLA Saleng A. Sangma on villages with no electricity keeps receiving bills, the power minister responded by saying that the villages had electricity once were now de-electrified and that the bills were coming due to bad transformer conditions. An order for the inquiry on the matter will be done.