N. E. Technologies, the company that prepared the software for electronic billing system for the electricity department asserted that there was no problem with the software and blamed the casual attitude of the department for the present problem.
Speaking to media persons, N. E. Technologies’ Vice President (Marketing) Sanjiv Nadkarni pointed out the various lacunae in the department that has given rise to the present problem of people getting high bills.
In the first place, he said the department did not renew the support contract that expired in March 2010 and subsequently in August 2010 sought to enter into a new contract without providing payment for working on holidays and over time.
He pointed out that during the period of contract, there were no complaints of poor service and implied that the company is sought to be blamed for the mistakes of the department.
Citing instances, he said that people might have got huge bills due to accumulation of arrears which have not been paid. He said this problem exists mostly in the government quarters where the earlier occupant has not paid the bill and the present occupant is asked to pay the arrears.
He also cited cases where the bill has been excessive due to the mistakes of the data entry operators. Further he said that the software raises flags to point out such data entry mistakes before the bill is printed which he said that department officials ignored and printed the wrong bills.
The efficacy of the software, he said is established by the fact that not only the revenue of the department is gone up but also the fact that the defaulters are getting exposed and gave the example of one household that was not billed for 20 years and continued to draw electricity from the department even though the bill was not paid for 20 years
Mr. Nadkarni said the software has been prepared after thorough study of the rules of the department and revealed that it had exposed misuse and abuse of low income group (LIG) connection.
“On an average, around 30 units of power should be consumed in an LIG connection. However, the software has found a number of LIG connections drawing 600-700 units of power,” thereby implying that the connection is misused.
Besides, he pointed out that though the rules provide for temporary disconnection if three bills are not paid and permanent disconnection if bills are not paid for six months, the department has never implemented this rule which is one of the reasons why people are getting high bills as their arrears are being added to it.
Commenting on the Department lax attitude he said his company had trained 20 persons to not only handle the software but also the consumers. However, the person appointed as co-ordinator for the programme was transferred to some other place and his replacement was not trained to deal with the software or the consumers.
“We did offer to train the new person, however, the Department did not respond to our offer and being untrained the new person has not been able to address the grievances raised by the consumers,” he said.
Incidentally the fact that the company has been awarded another government contract by the Info Tech Corporation of Goa for Directorate of Craftsman Training to put the ITIs on line, is testimony to the quality of work done by the company, said Mr. Nadkarni.