Rawalpindi - Tens of thousands of residents of Tariqabad division of IESCO are being deprived of their hard-earned money through over-billing and wrong electricity meter reading every month.

Unfortunately, the subdivision officers (SDOs) of Adyala Road, Dhamial Chakri Road and Tariqabad are allegedly shielding their blue-eyed and corrupt meter readers and other staff, instead of taking legal action against them on the complaints of the victim citizens.

The executive engineer Tariqabad division claimed that he wanted to kick out the corrupt elements from division but their strong political links and negligence of WAPDA high-ups were creating troubles for him. The executive engineer also declared Dhamial Chakri Road subdivision as the “home of corrupt and incompetents.”         

The victim citizens including old aged men and women and youngsters, who turn up on the last dates of every month to get their electricity bills corrected, are running from pillar to post but all in vain.

They demanded of the prime minister to take strict action against the corrupt elements in Tariqabad division and depute some honest people in the better interest of consumers.

During a survey and background interviews with the consumers of Tariqabad division by this scribe, it transpired that about 70 to 80 per cent overbilling was taking place in different areas, especially Dhamial Chakri Road.

The citizens irked by over-billing assembled outside Dhamial Charki Road Subdivision on Tuesday and leashed out at SDO Ashiq for his alleged atrocities and injustice and raised slogans against him.

They said that the meter readers did not visit their houses to note reading and sent them the wrong bills every month. They alleged that on lodging complaints against high electricity bills, the SDO misbehaved with them instead of taking action against the meter readers and other staff.

Imran Ali, a resident of Mohra Baryan Hayyal, while talking to this scribe said that WAPDA sent him electricity bills of Rs 5995 for the month of November without noting the units of his electricity meter. “I appeared before SDO Ashiq and sought justice. The SDO saw the bills and declared it correct,” Imran said, adding that he went to Javed, a staffer in billing section, and told him about his ordeal. “Javed without seeing previous record corrected the bill mentioning Rs 4200 over it.”

“Now you tell who is right and who is wrong?” Imran questioned. He alleged that this clearly revealed that SDO and his men were engaged in over-billing.

Interestingly, the In-charge of Meter Reading Section admitted before this scribe, “Our area is too much bigger and it is difficult for our meter readers to pay door to door visit to note down meter readings.”

When the complainant was taken to SDO by this scribe and asked as to why the electricity bill was reduced by a staffer after it was declared correct by the SDO, he misbehaved with the complainant and refused to reply.

Muhammad Saeed, another consumer at Adyala Road subdivision, alleged that meter readers did not bother to perform their duties and the consumers were served with hefty bills. “WAPDA sent me bill of Rs 9000 for November. I came here to get it corrected but the SDO and other staffers refused to do so,” he added.

Scores of other victims, by holding wrong bills in their hands, protested against the negligence of the SDOs and their staffers and threatened of torching their bills if they were not corrected.

EE Tariqabad Division Nadim Sadiq Malik, when approached by The Nation in his office and was told the whole saga, said, “My hands are up. I am fed up with corruption and mismanagement of the SDOs and their blue-eyed meter readers. Plenty of times I have taken up this matter of serious nature with my top bosses but no action has been taken against them.”