A high level probe has been ordered by Uttar Pradesh Power Minister Shrikanth Sharma into the sudden ‘blackout’ in lakhs of homes on the occasion of Janmashtami on Wednesday night. Thousands of smart meters installed in several cities snapped supply to even those consumers who had cleared their bills.
The Minister said, “If needed, an FIR would also be lodged against those who mishandled the control and command centre at the UPPCL headquarters in Lucknow.”
The minister was monitoring the repair work to ensure early restoration of supply on the festival. He regretted the inconvenience caused to power consumers.
Meanwhile, the Director of Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), Venkatesh Dwivedi, tweeted that the state heads of the EESL and L&T had been placed under suspension for dereliction of duty.
The EESL, a government of India company, is responsible for the installation and maintenance of smart meters.
On Wednesday evening, when people were busy celebrating Janmashtami, power was snapped in lakhs of homes in several cities, including Lucknow, as the smart meters started displaying ‘disconnection due to non-payment of monthly arrears’.
Many domestic consumers said that power was snapped despite the fact that they had cleared bills much in advance.
Besides, the department was not authorised to initiate the disconnection process before 11 a.m. on Thursday, they said.
Soon after the power was snapped on Wednesday evening, the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd. (UPPCL) offices in various cities started receiving complaints from irate consumers.
Senior officers of the UPPCL alerted state Minister Shrikant Sharma, who in turn asked chairman Arvind Kumar to set up a high-level committee to probe into the circumstances leading to disconnection of supply by the smart meters on the festival day.
Initial investigation pointed towards hacking of computer IDs at the command centre at UPPCL headquarters in Lucknow as the reason for the power failure as well as some technical issues with smart meters.
The Minister has sought a detailed report in this connection.
The smart meters have been supplied and installed by private companies to phase out outdated meters, mainly to ensure a foolproof billing process. In the first phase, the UPPCL has been replacing old meters with these meters in Lucknow, Varanasi, Gorakhpur and Gautam Buddha Nagar.