What is bliss today can become a problem tomorrow. Six months ago I was very happy with my electricity bill, which, I thought, was an accurate reflection of my power consumption. Then the problem started. One month suddenly the amount doubled, although my power consumption had remained the same. The next month the bill amount was Rs.100 more than the doubled sum. And since then, every month the bill amount has increased by Rs. 100.
Was someone tapping power from my meter? Or was the meter not functioning properly? I lodged a complaint with the electricity complaint cell. They said they would send an engineer within two days to check the meter and if the meter was found malfunctioning, it would be replaced. Two days became two weeks, but no one came.
In the meantime, I spoke to the landlord and told him that the burgeoning bill was straining my finances as it was shooting up my living cost every month. He understood I was forewarning him that I might leave the place if the problem persisted. Such threats usually swing the landlord into action.
He said probably the jeweler whose shop is just under my room was pilfering power. The landlord asked me to show him the bills and promised that he would have an electrician check the meter and have it fixed. I didn’t tell the landlord I had lodged a complaint with electricity board.
Yesterday, after more than two weeks had lapsed since I had lodged the complaint, an engineer called me and said he would visit my place to run a check on the meter. I was relieved expecting it would end my ordeal.
The engineer came in a van with an entourage of staff. The elaborate arrangement made them look less like electricity people and more like bank robbers.
As they ran their check on the meter using complex gadgets in turns, I kept shuttling between my room and the meter box to switch on and off the lights and gadgets in my room. Meanwhile, the jeweler, who the landlord had suspected of power pilferage, dropped in to take stock of the situation. With a distressed look, he told the engineers: “This poor boy has been getting exorbitantly high bills for last few months. And he only occupies one room.”
After an hour of checking, the meter guys informed that the meter wasn’t defective but even when the lights in my room were switched off, the meter wheel was slowly moving, indicating power theft or ‘grounding’ problem. They also said because the meter wasn’t at fault they couldn’t do anything more. I couldn’t fully understand what the grounding problem was.
Dejected, I returned to my room and arranged the bills in order to show them to the landlord later.