LAHORE - Protests against the overbilling by the Lesco continued for second day amid unscheduled and heavy loadshedding in the city.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had, lately, taken a notice of the inflated bills by Lesco but no action has been made against the overbilling.

On Saturday, people burned their electricity bills at Montgomery Road, chanted slogans against the government and the power distribution company and announced not to pay their extra bills. Angry protestors had taken to streets on Friday against the illegal overbilling in Badami Bagh, Batapur, Muredke and reportedly in other cities under company limits. The Rickshaw Union also held a protest demonstration against inflation and overbilling at Lahore Press Club.

Making millions of rupees by sending extra bills to poor consumers is a routine practice of Lesco and other DISCOs of the country. Almost every fifth consumer of the Lesco pays extra bills every month. Long queues of consumers at the complaint centres, concerned SDO and XEN offices can be seen easily.

“I get double bill after every two or three months. Every time I have to reach the SDO or XEN office to file an application with a CNIC copy attached along with. A meter reader then visits my house to ensure the correct reading on meter and so I get a correct bill,” said a consumer of Canal View Hosing Society. “We receive countless complaints of overbilling every day here,” an official of Lesco told this reporter, requesting anonymity. Lesco successfully managed to generate extra Rs200 million approximately by using this tactic every month and so does the other companies just to cover losses by electricity theft in their limits. Lesco issues extra bills to all the domestic, commercial and industrial consumers by charging 10 to 20 per cent extra units. The meter readers are being directed to charge extra units to collect maximum revenue. It is also a useful tactic that would help cut burden on the consumers in future when the electricity tariff would be increased as they (consumers) have already been charged for the units, they would consume in future, said official sources.

The angry protesters on Saturday said that they would not pay their bills at any cost and if any official came to disconnect their electricity, they would resist.

“We are already facing huge difficulties to meet the needs of our families, how we can pay Rs3000 to Rs4000 extra bill,” said a protestor. On the other hand, the Lesco management rhetorically claimed that the company would punish all those officials involved in overbilling of electricity. “The Company introduced incentives for those officials who would work for detection of pilferage of energy and recovery of defaulted amounts,” read the Lesco statement.

Meanwhile, amid the heavy extra billing, the people are facing 12 to 14 hours loadshedding in Lesco limits. The massive unscheduled loadshedding is also being conducted across the country except the VVIP feeders. The shortfall is hovering around 7,000MW while the generation stands at 10,000MW against the countrywide demand of over 17,000MW, said the sources.