Regional

High electricity bills for tribal people a scam: Meghalaya BJP

Correspondent SHILLONG, OCT 15 | Publish Date: 10/15/2020 1:18:17 PM IST
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is a constituent of the National People’s Party (NPP)-led ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA), has maintained that the high electricity bills were an “indirect tax” imposed by the State government on the tribal people.
“Soaring electricity bills are an indirect tax imposed on tribal people of the State which is affecting the entire society. As the state cannot impose direct tax on tribals, a new mechanism has been devised through the electricity bills to loot the public in the state,” BJP Meghalaya State Unit, Vice-President, Bernard Marak asserted on Thursday. “It’s an indirect tax imposed on the tribal people who are forced to pay the bills on threats of disconnection and legal action. The consumers are exploited of their rights and the whole society is suffering,” he said.
The BJP called upon the chief minister Conrad Sangma, power minister James Sangma and all elected leaders to immediately rectify this problem as “we smell a big scam” in the high electricity bill. “People have no earning during lockdown and many have not received their dues. Above that, the high electricity bills slapped on the public both in urban and rural areas fails any justification. BJP wants good governance in the state and this issue is one of the major problems faced by the public,” the party, which has two elected representatives in the State assembly, one of whom is a cabinet minister said.
 “This needs to be immediately looked into by concerned authorities and the minister will be held responsible as we smell a big scam. There are constant power cuts and shut downs every weekend, yet electricity bills scaled very high both in rural and urban areas,” Marak  pointed out.
“BJP fears there’s a big scam and the high bills are indirect tax imposed on the tribals by the authorities as state cannot impose direct tax on tribals, which has impacted the whole society. BJP wants to bring to the notice of the chief minister and concerned MLAs, including the power minister, that high electricity bills served to the public is one of the major issues which needs to be immediately rectified as the public are being forced to pay unjustified amounts every month,” the BJP leader iterated.
 “It is found that the bills are not prepared unit wise and the agents serving the bills prepare the bills without checking the meters. The BJP also sees the high electricity bill issue as an exploitation of the locals. We fear this is another corruption which BJP cannot ignore and stay mute to when people are exploited and made to suffer through threats. BJP is appraising this matter to the media because our leaders are not providing any platform to highlight people related issues,” he said.  “CM Conrad Sangma should address this issue immediately as entire State is facing this problem and particularly his constituency Tura is worst affected. People are suffering and being forced to pay the bills under threat of their line being disconnected and legal action taken against the consumers,” Marak said.
“On complaints, only excuse the department gave is the defective meter boxes. How can all meters be defective? Are defective meters supplied in entire state? Is that another scam? Some people who use to pay Rs 250 received bills of thousands while others even touched lakh which is impossible to believe. Every alternate day there is a power cut and Saturdays are mostly power dry days due to shutdown in Garo Hills. Poor consumers are pained due to rampant corruption through indirect tax which needs to be rectified,” the BJP said.
“People use CFL or LED bulbs these days and rural folks don’t use fridge, rice cookers etc., so how come the bills are high is the question asked by common men? Consumption of power should have been less as now there are various centrally sponsored schemes but it’s just the other way round. Is there some kind of deal with the companies collecting bills or is it the leaders who are imposing the extra rates? The entire state, especially Garo Hills is facing this problem and the  attention from the CM and other public leaders is sought to resolve this issue,” the BJP demanded.  
 

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