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Static in 24-hour power connection scheme

Red-tapism and delay in getting permission for road cuts to provide underground connectivity have somewhat dimmed a populist move.

Static in 24-hour power connection scheme
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Fact File

Chennai

It has been nearly a month after Electricity Minister P Thangamani said power connections would be provided to consumers within 24-hours of applying. However, the scheme is yet to  take off in a  big way, despite demand from consumers. 

This consumer-friendly scheme effective July 1, was announced on June 13, whereby power connections would be given to domestic and commercial buildings. Consumers apply either through Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) website (www.tangedco.gov.in) or by visiting the local TNEB office. 

“TANGEDCO’s scheme of providing consumers with power connection within 24 hours has slowed down in Chennai, due to the long underground cable network requirement, and lack of staff and infrastructure,” Corporation sources told DT Next. 

The two-step process includes applicants filling details and uploading scanned copies of the building ownership documents. As only one building ownership document is needed and as the application status can be tracked online, consumers have welcomed the move. Necessary connection charges could also be paid online. While inaugurating the scheme, Thangamani had stated that transparency would be ensured by the Corporation posting on its website the charges for both domestic and commercial buildings and for single phase and three phase connections. 

Corporation sources said that till date nearly 2,000 connections have been given all over Tamil Nadu, with areas having over-head lines receiving faster service. According to TNEB engineers, “In rural areas and those on the outskirts of Chennai city, connections can be given quicker as there is no cutting of roads involved. We follow the usual practice of measuring out the wire from the post to the house and tying up the wire to the electric pole till we are notified that the requisite amount has been paid, then we just have to extend the wire and link it to the power consumption meter.”

GREY AREAS 

However, it is a different story in Chennai where power lines are underground. In order to provide connections under this scheme, cutting up roads becomes necessary, for which the Corporation has to seek permission from the requisite local body and also pay for cutting up the road. This takes time. “We also have to measure out the exact length of wire needed and this adds to the amount already announced by the Corporation. The Corporation has said that this amount could be added to the first month’s bill issued, to the consumer.” 

However, TNEB staff’s main grouse is that the scheme was started keeping in mind public welfare, without preparing the ground with necessary infrastructure or staff. “We are already making do with minimal staff, who have to attend to all EB-related work. When a 11Kv feeder trips, existing staff will naturally be diverted for this work, as this has more priority.” 

Another issue is lack of sufficient number of meters. “We have on hand around three meters for single-phase connections and two meters for three-phase connections. But this is not enough to meet what is expected to be an increasing demand,” pointed out officials. “Because of this scheme getting priority, cases relating to changing of meter boxes, which is routine work, have been put on the back burner,” they added. 

“Given that this scheme cuts government red tape to a large extent, consumers do not complain when their connection is delayed by a day,” officials said and added, “Chennai consumers understand when we explain the delay caused in getting permission to cut roads.” Playing it safe, the Corporation has also announced that those not happy with the services can lodge their complaints through fax at 044-28520749, phone 044-28520416 or email to adgp@ tnebnet.org. 

However, consumer organisations are yet to receive feedback about this scheme. A spokesperson for the Chennai based CAG said, “We have not received any feedback about this new scheme till date.”

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