Monday, January 22, 2007

REL Penalised at ATE hearing !!!

This is with reference to the REL appeal at the Appellate Tribunal of Electricity, New Delhi, to put an additional burden on us of over a 1000 crores...

Well, I attended that hearing.

Here are brief details of what happened ...

As per the Notice issued to us, 3 of us from the Bombay Small Scale Industries Association (BSSIA) and 2 independent consumers turned up on Jan 18th, to protest against REL's proposed hike.

At the hearing, NO other consumer organisation from Mumbai (or anywhere else) turned up.

Though we (and one representative from MERC) were present, the REL counsel, took an adjournment, without our consent, and left !!

However, when we brought this matter to the attention of the Hon'ble Bench, they were gracious and just, to list the matter on Board again the next day and issued orders to all concerned to be present.

On 19th, again, NO other consumer organisation from Mumbai turned up !!

Shameful !!

But, Prayas Energy, (a Pune NGO) showed up and made a representation against the hike (see DNA press report here ).

The BSSIA is of the opinion that since REL does not have a License, they have no right to make the appeal, at all.

The REL counsel was asked why no consent was sought from the BSSIA, especially since they themselves had sent a Notice to BSSIA and about 8 other persons to be present on Jan 18th.

REL had no reply to offer and again requested that the matter be adjourned with a short date of Feb 5th, which they had taken earlier.

We all were ready to have discussions (known as "arguing the matter") and so were the MERC counsel and the Prayas representative, but REL did not want to ... and kept insisting on an adjournment, just because some senior counsel of theirs was not available.

What a reason ! Especially when all the others were present to argue the matter. Such gross misuse of the system leads to a waste of time (of the people and the Courts) and public money - which eventually YOU and I will pay for - as part of our electricity bills !!

The Hon'ble Court then penalised REL for calling everyone to Delhi and then asking for another date - consequently, making everyone come again. Though the press report says that BSSIA asked for reimbursement, thats not true.

The Hon'ble Court then awarded all those present (Prayas, BSSIA and other individuals, but not MERC) an amount of Rs. 1 Lakh, as damages.

The Hon'ble Court was very eager to hear the consumers (Thank God .. & the Hon'ble Court !!) and asked for our confirmation for the next date. We requested for a date after Feb 17th and a date of Feb 20th, was agreed upon, by all present.

So, till Feb 20th - this matter is staved off - so we all can breathe a little easy, as the "AEC charges" may not be levied in our next set of bills also.

While we will continue to fight such irresponsible hikes, the important questions are:
- Where did the nominated Mumbai consumer organisation (Mumbai Grahak Panchayat) go ?
- Why didn't they attend ? Especially after being quoted in the Press as having a commitment to protest (see Hindustan Times, dated 14-1-2007)
- They could have submitted a written protest - but didn't - WHY ?
- Why is there no accountability ?
- How does MERC even authorise such entities ?
- What should consumers do when their (supposedly) own representatives do not perform ?

The last question is very important in the perspective that BMC elections are around the corner. (More on this later).

This experience just shows the machinations of large corporations and how they wield their power to manipulate the system.

Sign the online petition for removing this unholy exclusivity and let's pave the way for competition - so that we don't have to deal with this again...Ever ! Do that here:

Well ... and that's how I feel ...

This information has been posted in good faith, in the interest of
public good, without prejudice.

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