Power distribution company MSEDCL has been fined over Rs 9 lakh for not restoring power supply to a Wardha farmer for over two years. This is the highest fine imposed on the discom. Electricity ombudsman justice KJ Rohee (retd) also asked MSEDCL to fix liability on officers and punish them for the lapse.
Namdeo Chavan, a farmer of Tadgaon village in Wardha, was given a power connection for his agricultural pump on July 15, 2014. But supply was disrupted within 15 days due to a storm. MSEDCL is yet to restore supply. Chavan lodged oral complaints with MS-EDCL but to no avail. A year later, he approached MSE-DCL's internal grievance redressal cell (IGRC) demanding compensation as per Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) norms. MSEDCL submitted in IGRC that supply had not been restored as poles were unavailable then, adding that as poles were now available, supply would be restored. IGRC dismissed the plea for compensation on August 7, 2015.
Chavan filed a case in consumer grievance redressal forum on June 19, 2015 claiming the same relief. The forum dismissed it on September 23, 2015 holding that it was not a 'fuse of call' complaint.
The farmer challenged the order before the electricity ombudsman on June 28, 2016. BV Betal represented him before the ombudsman while deputy executive engineer VM Hedau represented the discom.
The ombudsman in his order stated that the discom's claim that the adjoining cultivators obstructed the laying of the poles was false to say the least. From the circumstances, it appeared that the concerned officials had deliberately neglected restoration of the electric supply to the appellant.
Justice Rohee directed MSEDCL to pay compensation at the rate of Rs 50/- per hour to Chavan for the period September 1, 2014 to September 30, 2014 (date of issue of the order). This comes to Rs. 9.12 lakh. MSEDCL will have to continue to pay compensation to the farmer till the date of restoration of supply to him. As MSEDCL is yet to restore supply even after issue of the order, the compensation has increased.