Inflated bills, faulty meters keep Lesco consumers on tenterhooks

Published October 13, 2021
A Lesco staffer installs a new transformer near Ferozpur Road in Lahore. — APP/File
A Lesco staffer installs a new transformer near Ferozpur Road in Lahore. — APP/File

LAHORE: There are growing complaints of overbilling, excess or advance reading, average billing and delayed replacement of faulty meters by the Lahore Electric Supply Company’s field formations.

A number of people have complained about inflated bills they received in recent times and indifference of the officials to solve the issues.

The Lesco administration, on the other hand, claims to have removed two SDOs, suspended another two from service, sought explanation from a couple of more officers besides suspending an executive engineer (EXEN) for not solving the problems being faced by the consumers.

“Our meter went out of order a month ago and the officials visited our premises, inspected the meter and then served a detection bill of Rs63,000. I approached the respective field officer who reduced the bill amount to Rs38,000 but it was still unaffordable,” said a resident of Al-Falah Town subdivision which falls in the service jurisdiction of Lesco’s Defence East division.

CEO claims removing two SDOs, suspending three officers

“I borrowed some money and paid the bill to avert power disconnection. They are yet to replace the faulty meter,” he complained.

According to a resident of Kasur’s rural area, the meter readers used to charge him huge bills with advance reading. “We off and on receive heavy bills despite the fact that we don’t live here permanently. It was revealed that the meter readers note the wrong reading / units,” said a resident of a village near Bhilla Hattar -- an area in the service jurisdiction of Lesco’s Bahadurpura subdivision.

He said the area office didn’t correct the bill despite the fact that the reading proved wrong. “It is actually a case of advance reading that seems a routine in Lesco areas,” he deplored.

Another consumer told Dawn that he received inflated bill for the month of September. “I found that the meter reader charged about 400 units more than those used. As the officials in the area office didn’t respond well, I paid the bill by borrowing money from someone,” said a resident of Johar Town’s R block.

A resident of DHA (Phase-1, D Block) also complained about issuance of inflated average bills on account of faulty meter. “I visited the office of Defence East SDO three times and luckily succeeded to have the bill slightly reduced,” he said.

Federal Minister Hammad Azhar has also reportedly reprimanded the Lesco administration after he himself received several such complaints in his constituency. He has also ordered the Lesco admin to correct the inflated bills within a short span of time.

A source told Dawn that the situation worsened after Lesco’s request for the purchase of new meters and other equipment was turned down by the company’s Board of Directors some time ago. This led to increase in corrupt practices allegedly on the part of Lesco officials as it provided them an opportunity to fleece the consumers on the pretext of faulty meters and unavailability of new meters,” the source claimed.

“Power theft cases allegedly in connivance with the officials have also increased side by side,” he added.

Lesco Chief Executive Officer Chaudhry Amin dispelled the impression claiming that the situation was not as bad as being portrayed by the media.

“Lesco is the biggest company in the country in terms of number of consumers and the load / consumption. We have 5.5 million consumers. I don’t deny complaints but they are very few,” he maintained.

“If we have few complaints among 5.5 million consumers, it is not a big issue,” he added.

Mr Amin claimed to have taken strict action against the officers involved in overbilling, advance reading etc. “In recent days, we have removed two SDOs and suspended two others from service. We have also sought explanation from some other officers besides suspending an EXEN (Defence East) from service,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2021

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