However, many states have announced concessions, including additional subsidies, to provide relief to the public who were already hit hard by the COVID-19 lockdown. But neither Tamil Nadu government nor Tangedco provided any relief to the consumers other than extended period for the bill payment.
Kerala government announced a Rs 200 crore package to provide additional subsidy for 90 lakh domestic consumers. Free electricity was announced for those with a connected load of less than 500 watts, regardless of the amount of electricity used. The consumers whose consumption ranges from 50 units and over 150 units would be provided with a subsidy ranging from 50% to 20% on additional charges. The consumers were also allowed to pay their bills in five instalments.
Similarly, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Odisha announced rebate to the consumers who pay their power bills promptly, ranging from 1% to 4%.
“The power bill for the lockdown period has come as a shocker for the consumers who already suffered wage losses, salary cuts, job loss and increase in the cost of essential commodities,” said K Vishnu of Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group. Considering the huge subsidies provided to the domestic consumers, he said the utility could have allowed the consumers to pay their huge bills in three or four instalments. “We had written to the TNERC, Tangedco and Energy secretary in this regard in June second week, but in vain,” he noted.
A senior Tangedco official said huge power bills for domestic consumers were mostly due to increased energy consumption. “Tamil Nadu has the lowest tariff across the country. We provide the first 100 units of power free to all domestic consumers. In such a scenario, we cannot provide further concession other than providing extended time to pay bills,” the official said.