Youth Congress activists and leaders in Mizoram staged a protest in Aizawl against the state government over hike in power tariff.
The Youth Congress leaders also demanded resignation of Mizoram power minister R Lalzirliana for the “steep hike” in power tariff.
Speaking at the protest site in front of Vanapa Hall here, Congress youth president Dr. Lalmalsawma Nghaka accused the state government of robbing people by hiking power tariff and issuing wrong or bogus power bills.
“The power minister should take responsibility for the hike and bogus bills and must oblige to resign from his office for failing to look after his department efficiently,” he said.
The protestors alleged that the Mizoram government hiked power tariff by over 20 percent in April, when the people were facing financial constraints due to COVID-19.
Lalmalsawma claimed that the power bills issued in August were mostly high and some poor families, who consumed very less units, have to pay consumption charges amounting to Rs 10,000 to Rs. 1 lakh.
Under the pretext of lockdown, the government has prepared bills and fixed consumption charges on assumption without actual meter reading, he said.
He said that the sudden and abnormal rise in power bills has shocked the consumers and put the burden on the poor households, who could not pay their bills.
He asked the government to withdraw all the bogus bills and re-issue correct bills to the consumers.
He also urged the state government to give a relaxation to the consumers as they were impacted by the Covid-19.
Members of the youth congress also pasted posters and put black flags across the state capital on Tuesday in protest against the exorbintant increase in power tariff and fuel prices.
Meanwhile, state power engineer-in-chief Lalduhzuala Sailo denied any lapse in the power bills.
“Although meter reading was not done due to the coronavirus induced lockdown, bills were prepared and consumption charges were calculated by taking together the average net value of the unpaid months based on the net amount of the last previous bill as allowed by the existing guidelines,” he said.
The bill amounts were generally high because they covered three months- April to June wherein the net amount for the three months calculated from the last net amount in March bill was put together, he said.
On power tariff, Sailo said that it was the decision of a commission based on the consensus reached at a public hearing.
He said that power tariff is decided by the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) for the states of Mizoram and Manipur, which as a procedure, used to hold a public hearing before power tariff is hiked.
The official said that only representatives of a political party were present at the hearing, which unanimously agreed to a 20.7 per cent hike effective from first April.