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Rice mill owners in Phulbari complain over inflated bills

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Tura, March 10: At least three rice mill owners in the village of Upper Shyamnagar under Phulbari in West Garo Hills have complained of exaggerated bills being served to them by FEDCO despite their repeated requests by them to correct the errors.
The matter came to light following a visit to the village where one mill owner, identified as Methola Rabha, stated that she got a monthly bill for over Rs 78,000 whereas she would normally get one in the range of Rs 2000 – Rs 3000 during the season.
“Just to keep things clear, I have made the meter reader write down the meter reading at the end of every cycle. We have kept a record of this every month. While the meter reading is normal, I am still being served huge bills for the past 6-7 months. It seems the company (FEDCO) is really desperate, otherwise there is no logical explanation for this,” said Methola.
She added that it has been a frustrating 6-7 months for the family as they are continuously being harassed for no fault of theirs.
“We have gone every month to the office in Phulbari where the local officers claim that the error was being made in Shillong and it would be rectified. However despite the passage of time, nothing has been done. We always clear our bills so there cannot be a backlog that was added. The company really needs to get its act together and ensure we get justified bills and not something they want to cook up for themselves,” she added.
The angry family has warned the meter reader to not come to their house to collect the reading until the mess has been cleared up by them.
Another mill owner, Ratan Marak also made a similar complaint after getting close to Rs 10000 bill even when the meter reading in the bill itself showed ‘Zero’.
“I was really surprised by what we were served and spoke to the office in Phulbari. They said the matter would be rectified but even six months later, it is not resolved. I have had arguments in the office on this and still it has not been cleared. We never got such high bills as our operation is very small. This is just ridiculous,” said Ratan.
Their normal bills hover around Rs 1100 every month.
Interestingly the third mill owner, Uttam Kr Rabha, who also got a huge bill was told by the company officials that the rectification would be done after the month of March, the end of the yearly billing cycle despite him being overcharged somewhere in Oct, 23. They still asked him to make a token deposit of Rs 2500, which he duly paid.
“There may be more such cases in the plain belt as we can’t be the only ones having to face similar issues. My bill showed 0 units used but the amount was over Rs 15,000. It showed I used more than 2200 units which is impossible with the set up I have. Like the others my bills are also on time so there can be no question of any adjustment,” said Uttam.
What has irked all 3 complainants is the fact that the company is aware of the mistake but is still taking ages to rectify.
Upon being contacted on the matter, FEDCO officials confirmed that there was indeed mistakes made and promised to ensure justified bills would be provided to the consumers, something that the consumers have taken with a pinch of salt.
“We will wait for some more time before approaching Consumer Court on this. The type of harassment to paying consumers cannot be allowed to go unpunished,” added the complainants.

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