The Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum (Rural), Ahmedabad, has criticised the management of the Uttar Gujarat Vij Co. Ltd. (UGVCL) for protecting employees who ‘harass’ consumers for personal benefit. It also asked the company to take action against them for their ‘vindictive’ approach in disconnecting consumers’ power supply, depriving them of their livelihood. The Forum was giving its verdict on 22 December 2005 on a complaint filed by an electricity consumer of Dhandhuka and Consumer Education and Research Society (CERS), Ahmedabad, who won the case.
The Forum also pulled up the UGVCL staff for not following the regular procedure in cases involving power theft such as taking photographs and preparing panchnamas or rojkam.
Deciding on the complaint filed, the Forum ordered the UGVCL to restore immediately the power supply to the aggrieved consumer, Laljibhai Solanki, a self-employed resident of Dhandhuka and consumer of the UGVCL, withdraw and set aside the Rs. 4.47-lakh penalty, and pay compensation of Rs. 3000 to the complainants.
Earlier, Solanki had approached CERS, alleging wrongful disconnection of power supply to his small-scale industry unit. He alleged that he had been victimised and trapped in false charges of theft of electricity on 31 March 2004 as he had refused unjust demands of K. J. Patel, junior engineer of the Dhandhuka sub-divisional office of the UGVCL.
Patel had allegedly visited the premises of the consumer in his absence, tilted the electronic meter in a right angle, where it stops recording the energy consumed, disconnected the power supply, and removed the meter and associated equipments.
The Forum, taking note of the allegation, criticised the manner in which Patel and the meter testing laboratory staff of the divisional office had carried out a number of overwritings and cancellations in the meter testing report.
CERS discussed the issue with senior officials of the UGVCL and Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd. (GUVNL), which failed to resolve the dispute and instead transferred Patel to the Dhuvaran thermal power station. CERS was left with no option but to file a case before the Forum on 11 March 2005.
The case was successfully handled by K K Bajaj, Director of CERS, and H. P. Motiramani, advocate. The Forum comprised Mr.
V. C. Modi, president, and Ms Nandini K. Thaker, Member.