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‘Your meter is slow, you’ll get high bills’: Racket illegally changing power meters in Pune unearthed

“Your electricity meter is running very slowly. You will get a very high bill running into lakhs if you do not change it soon,” a resident of Chakan in Pune was told in the first week of August by a man who had come to his house to record the meter reading. Later some people took close to Rs 1 lakh from him and installed a new meter at his house.

Some officials from the Chakan regional unit of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) found out during their routine inspections that many consumers have new power meters installed while there are no records of these changes, nor were the old meters deposited at the office.

During a subsequent probe, MSEDCL unearthed a racket that cheated power consumers by threatening them with very high power bills and changing their power meters in return for amounts running into thousands of rupees. The fraudsters had posed as MSEDCL officials.

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The probe has revealed that the main suspect is Dayanand Pattekar, an employee of a private company contracted by MSEDCL to record meter readings. While MSEDCL has information that the suspects have taken around Rs 4 lakh from three consumers for the illegal change of meters, the number of defrauded customers is believed to be much higher. Suspects installed power meters bought from the market instead of calibrated power meters from the MSEDCL, thus causing revenue loss to the power utility, the probe has revealed.

A case in this regard was registered at the Chakan police station on September 16 against Pattekar and three unidentified suspects. An officer from the police station said that a probe had been launched. Pattekar is said to be on the run.

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MSEDCL chief engineer Rajendra Pawar said, “It has come to light that some suspects posing as MSEDCL employees are offering to help consumers tamper with the power meter to get reduced bills or are offering help to install new meters by threatening them with high electricity bills. We are appealing to consumers not to fall prey to these scammers and report them to the nearest MSEDCL office. Appropriate action will be initiated.”

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