Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Why Indian Railways considering charging of insurance premium from passengers?

Why Indian Railways considering charging of insurance premium from passengers?

It seems Indian Railways is considering introduction of a nominal fee for covering the risks against accidents and luggage. If we look at the past statistics, most of the accidents and stealing of luggage of passengers is due to the inefficiency of the railways. To an estimate, more than 80% of the accidents are occuring because of human failure. Similar is the view about luggage being stolen. The railways need to ensure that the travel by unathorised passengers (main cause of the stealing of luggage) do not travel in the reserved coaches. TTE has been failing in their duties to check on such lapses, the prominent being from the angle of corruption.

Number of supporters of the present Government are making grounds for charging of nominal fee of Rs. 2/- per passenger as insurance premium to cover for such risks.

Now the question comes as to why the passenger be made to pay for insurance premium. It is appreciable that Indian Railways is in the service of transportation both passengers as well as goods. As far as nature of business of Indian Railways is concerned, it is on the same platform as that of Airlines, Buses, Delhi Metro, Local suburban trains of Mumbai and so on. Under various Acts, the transport vehicles are to be duly insured for which insurance companies are charging premium from the owners and cover the risk which of-course includes accidents, 3rd party insurance etc. Any business on account of charging fee for insurance premium would also promote other transporters to have similar repercussion. It is the prime responsibility of any transporter to ensure safety of passengers, goods and other users.

There have been several post on the public domain advocating for introduction of insurance for passengers and luggage. Citizens have been suggesting charging of Rs. 2/- per passengers as insurance premium to cover risks of passengers and luggage. It seems there is some ground work being done under some political agenda.

While to some of the posts, I have expressed my views on the issue, the main point is not being responded to. The Indian Railway is also a transporter and it is the prime responsibility of the transporter to provide the services duly insured including safety of passengers and the luggage. It is also surprising that Railways want to burden the passengers for their own inefficiency. As an example, the luggage is stolen because of unauthorized traveling in the reserved coach. It is the prime responsibility of the employee i.e TTE to ensure that no unauthorized boarding take place. However TTE have laxity in performance of their duties one because of laxity and 2nd because of unauthorized income.

It seems the present Govt. is working as Marketing Executive/ Insurance Agents for insurance companies. It is estimated that on an average more than twenty million passengers travels daily using Railway as mode of travel and if Rs. 2/- is charged from each passenger, it ensures a revenue of Rs. 40 Million daily for insurance company. This is equal to Rs. 1,4600 Million annually.

Now a published report indicates some revealing facts which I am bringing herein:

1.       Total Number of passengers killed from 2009-10 to 2013-14 : 502
2.       Total Number of passengers injured from 2009-10 to 2013-14 : 1531
3.       Total amount of compensation paid (in Rs. Lakhs) : 1816

The above data is for the period of 5 years and therefor the total revenue generation would be Rs. 14600 Million  x 5 yrs = Rs. 73000 Million as against a compensation paid of Rs. 180 Million during last 5 years
Is it the Govt. of India working as marketing agents of the insurance companies? Is there any hidden understanding specially keeping in view opening of FDI in Insurance sector?

In view of above, I feel Indian Railways or Ministry of Railways not to promote insurance business and restrict itself in discharge of its service obligations which includes safety of passengers and their luggage else the other operators like Airlines, Buses, Metros, Local Sub-urban trains would also resort to such unethical business practices.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Complaint on alleged Deceptive Trade Practices of BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd.

Complaint on alleged Deceptive Trade Practices of BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd.

An article titled "Whether Electricity DISCOMs in Delhi adapting to Unethical Business Practices?" was posted on this blog on 15th July 2016.

A consumer has reported about the unethical business practices of BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd. (BRPL) resulting into financial loss due to excess billing amounting to Rs. 965/-. He was advised to raise the complaint before the company i.e BRPL. However, the consumer did not get any response. 

However, the DISCOM reported their version against a tweet duly tagged to BSES. The response received from the DISCOM was analysed and found that the DISCOM is violating the regulations of Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) on billing and since the bills are raised through the software, it is expected that all the consumers are being issued bills in violation of regulations of DERC. All the affected consumers irrespective of the amount (whether it is Rs. 5/- or Rs.100/-) are advised to raise their voice against such deceptive trade practices as such small small amount results into unethical earning by Rs. 50- 100 crore per year. 

As per existing mechanism of complaint redressal, the consumer was assisted in raising a complaint before Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) of BRPL. A copy of the complaint is given below so that other consumers being decepted by the DISCOM can also raise complaint suitably. 

Complaint to CGRF BRPL
Complaint against BSES
Complaint to CGRF BRPL

Friday, July 15, 2016

Whether Electricity DISCOMs in Delhi adapting to Unethical Business Practices?

Whether Electricity DISCOMs in Delhi adapting to Unethical Business Practices and why there is a silence by Delhi Government?

The electricity in Delhi is being distributed to the consumers by:
1. BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd.
2. BSES Yamuna Power Ltd and 
BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd
BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd- Sample Bill
3. Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd

All these distribution companies are called prominently as DISCOMs. The DISCOMs are the first interface directly with the last mile stone i.e Consumer and these distribution companies are required to adhere to the regulations as laid down under Electricity Act, 2003. The distribution of electricity in the region of Delhi is being regulated by Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC). DERC frames the regulations through a process of consultation and open house discussions with an objective to keep the interest of the Consumers as utmost and ensures that these regulations are implemented. 

Delhi has elected a Government which fought on a main issue of corruption and one of the key point of election mandate has been to reform Electricity Distribution process in the Delhi with continue power availability and reasonable charges. One of the immediate relief given by the Delhi Government headed by Shri Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi was to provide a relief on immediate basis to fullfill their election mandate by way of providing Subsidy. The Subsidy was to the tune of 50% on the Energy Charges to those consumers who have their monthly consumption limited to 400 units. While the DISCOMs are charging 100% value of energy charges, the 50% Subsidy is to be provided to the Consumers in the bill and is on reimburseable basis from Govt. of Delhi.

Recently a consumer complained that despite his consumption of 385 units in 29 days billing period, he has not been provided the Subsidy. The bill was analysed keeping in view that the bills are generated using software and there is practically no manual intervention in avoiding such grant of Subsidy to the consumers. More so interestingly if one consumer has been billed wrongly, the well consumers also would have been billed wrongly. Secondly when the Delhi Government is reimbursing the Subsidy to the Distribution Company then why the DISCOMs should do such manipulations. It also raised a suspicion as to whether it is possible that while the Subsidy amount is being taken from Delhi Government, the DISCOMs are retaining the Subsidy amount. If it is so then the business practices could be well defined as Unethical Business Practices. 

Through various public posts, all the consumers were requested to share their electricity bills so as to analyse their bills to arrive at specific conclusions. I am grateful to all those consumers who have shared their electricity bills with me. 

The analysis as carried out be me on sampling basis, revealed shocking facts and then compelled me to guess why BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd. did not respond to the escalated complaints. The only response could be ensured by using tweets by duly tagging BSES. The company confirmed that the following consumption pattern has been used to arrive at whether the consumer is entitled for Subsidy or not and the same criteria is being used by them to calculate monthly bills.To illustrate the formula being used by BSES in billing as well as eligibility of consumer (as per response received from BSES) for Subsidy for a consumption of 385 units for a period of 29 days from 20/05/2016 to 17/06/2016 as under:
1. Days included for May 2016: i.e 20/05/2016 : 12 days = 400 units/31 days i.e 12.90 units/ days= 12 days* 12.90= 154.80 units .................. (A)
2. Days included for June 2016 i.e 01/06/2016 to 17/06/2016 = 17 days= 400 units/30 days i.e 13.33 units per days= 17days * 13.33= 226.61 units ............... (B)

So total units eligible for Subsidy is A+B = 154.8 +226.61 units= 381.41 units. Hence the unit consumption of 385 units is more than the eligible units for Subsidy.

Exactly the same method of calculation is being used for electricity billing by all the three DISCOMs. Now referring to the DERC regulations, DERC have clearly defined the "month" as of 30 days for the purpose of billing as well as for eligibility of consumer for Subsidy instead of No. of days in a month/ no. of units billed criteria. 

If we calculate as per the billing formula of DERC regulations, the average consumption per day should not exceed 13.33 units for eligibilty of consumer for Subsidy which makes a total of 386.57 units i.e 387 units (RO) which establish that the consumer having consumption of 385 units in 29 days was entitled for the Subsidy which has been denied to the consumers. It could also make us to believe that many many such consumers might have also been denied the Subsidy. Not only the Subsidy, the billing amount is exceeded than the actual amount it should be as per DERC regulation. 

Hence the billing system of all the three DISCOMs i.e BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd. (BRPL), BSES Yamuna Power Ltd (BYPL) and Tata Delhi Power Distribution Ltd. (TDPDL) all defective. This formula being used by DISCOMs are resulting into excess billing. The sample analysis reveled the excess billing ranged from Rs. 18/- to Rs. 965/- . There are around 50 lakhs consumers in Delhi and well such unethical excess billing could by many many crores in a year. This gets substantiated about the various pre-election statement on electricity distribution companies of populist "Aam Admi Party" (AAP) who formed the Government at Delhi with absolute majority.  

I would appeal all Consumers of Delhi Electricity to flood the offices of DISCOM in their region with the complaints requesting them to ensure refund/ adjustment is affected into their subsequent bills. I would be willing to assist the consumers to make a complaint with details of the refund due. In my view such billing formula should affect to all those electricity bills raised after 1st October 2015 and whose average daily consumption exceeds 6.67 units i.e 200 units in 30 days :
1. No. of units billed.
2. No. of days billed
3. Energy charges claimed in the bill. 

Rest all details like CA Number, Bill Number could be filled directly by the consumer in their respective complaints.