Tangedco had given the consumers in Chennai, Tiruvallur, Chengalpattu and Kancheepuram, where the complete lockdown was enforced between June 19 and July 6, time to pay their power bills for the lockdown period till July 15.
“Despite our repeated appeals to the public to make use of the online payment facilities, a section of consumers still preferred to make payments at the counters. There were long queues in most of the collection centres in the city,” said a Tangedco official.
An official at Mylapore centre said that the employees themselves had made arrangements like painting marks to maintain social distancing. “We had also kept a board urging the public to maintain distance and not to crowd at the collection window. The public followed the norms strictly and maintained a distance and wore masks,” he noted.
K Shanmugham, a consumer at Vepery complained that he was forced to stand in the queue after his attempt to pay the bill online failed. “Whenever I tried paying the bill online, it failed. Hence, I had no other option but to stand in the queue,” he said, urging the Tangedco to improve the online payment facility.
Central Organisation of Tamil Nadu Electricity Employees general secretary S Rajendran said that his union has asked the workers to make arrangements for consumers to pay the bills maintaining social distancing norms. “We are planning to provide Kabasura Kudineer and face masks to consumers at Mylapore counter on Wednesday morning and to make them take a pledge to maintain social distancing and wear a mask whenever they step out of their homes,” he said.
Similarly, residents of the southern suburbs were also in a hassle after the EB sent messages to their mobile that power supply will be disconnected if they do not pay the bill before Wednesday.
Residents of Tambaram, Perungalathur, Chromepet, Pallavaram, Pammal, Anagaputhur and Sembakkam said that they got the warning message from the EB even after paying the bill amount and most of them claimed that online portals are not working.
Ramesh, a resident of Tambaram said that he was surprised to see the message and tried to pay the bill using Google Pay and also debit card, but failed.
Residents added that many had to wait in long queues at the collection centre to pay the bills. The electricity board should give an extension considering the situation and should make sure that online portals are functioning without error.
Consumers opined that it is not advisable to disconnect power as the city is dealing with the epidemic and unemployment.
A Tangedco official said, "We are following the instructions given by higher officials. The SMS might have been sent to those who already paid the bill due to some technical error."