Photo shows a electricty meter.
File photo

The man has everything in his flat at Gulshan in Dhaka: three air-conditioners (AC), lights, fans and other necessary electronic equipment, but his monthly electricity usage is ‘Zero Unit’, which is why he has been charged minimum Tk 209 for only power connection for the last ten months.

Before that he paid Tk 214 for three months for using only 1 unit of electricity.

The man, who is escaping the electricity bill month after month, is Abu Saleh Mahmud Sharif, deputy general manager of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited (human resource and development).

Abu Saleh used to live in a flat on the second floor of a building of Titas Gas Officers Quarter at Gulshan, is now residing in on third floor.

A security guard of Titas Gas lives in a flat on the ground floor of the building and uses only a fan and light. But he had to pay Tk 16,000 to Tk 22,000 as the electricity bills per month -- in the months when the meter of Abu Saleh appeared with zero unit consumption.

According to Titas Das, the electricity bills of all flats on ground floor and empty ones of the quarter are paid from Titas station control section while the officials have to pay their own.

Abu Saleh Mahmud Sharif

The building -- where Abu Saleh is residing, needs five meters for power supply.

On 20 June, the issue of Abu Saleh’s payment was learned from the station control section. According to the section, he stayed at a flat on the second floor of the quarter along with his family from 27 November in 2020 to 4 March in 2022.

Later on 5 March, he shifted to another flat on the third floor for repairing the former one.

When he had stayed on the second floor, his electricity bill was also abnormal and full of discrepancies, with the meter showing no electricity had been consumed for 10 months since March 2020. However, up to Tk 22,000 was billed for security guards during this period. But, the electricity bill rose to Tk 12,000 to 13,000 after Abu Saleh began staying on the third floor.

The Titas formed a probe committee on 19 July to look into the discrepancy in the electricity bill of Abu Saleh. The committee was asked to report in 15 days, but it is yet to do so.

Regarding the discrepancy in bills, Abu Saleh told Prothom Alo, “There has been no problem over my electricity bill, people are coming after me. I am about to get a promotion and someone who wants this apartment where I currently live is doing this dirty work.”

Replying to a query on what sort of electrical equipment he has at his apartment, Abu Saleh said, “There are three ACs, lights and fans being used at my residence.”

So, how can his usage of electricity be zero units and why did he not inform the authorities concerned about discrepancy in bill? In reply, Abu Saleh said, “There are many agencies to look into it.”

“I am the focal person of my company’s integrity issues. This time, we are going to receive an integrity award on behalf of 13 companies and we have secured the top place.”

Although not talking about his own electricity bill, Abu Saleh has tried to come up with an explanation for such an exorbitant bill on the ground floor.

He said the bill was exorbitant as 25 lights and 3 fans are used on the ground floor.

Titas Gas station control branch’s engineer Md Mohidur Rahman rejected this comment saying, “How can 25 lights be used in a single room?

He said Abu Saleh's meter was ‘mother meter’. Why would he not inform if the meter was out of order and he did not pay the bill for around a year? There must be a tempering if the meter was not faulty. Three-four ACs are used in his house but no bill was charged while the security guard was charged up to Tk 22,000 bill a month.

Engineer Mahidul Rahman said the bill reached up to Tk 13,000 after Abu Saleh changed his meter.

“Now everything depends on the probe committee report. Why would the bill show zero units in such a big flat where three ACs are used,” Mahidul added.

Titas Gas’deputy general manager engineer Md Shafiqul Islam is the convener of the three-member probe body. Asked why the probe report has not been submitted yet, Shafiqul said, “We are looking into the matter why the bill was not less or did not come.”

He said the probe report would be submitted soon.

Probe committee’s member secretary and deputy manager Sabrina Afrin told Prothom Alo, “We are very busy with our own work. Doing investigation is extra pressure, which is the reason behind the delay.”

Engineer Mostak Masud Md Imran, another member of the probe body, said “I’m just a member (of the committee). So I can’t tell you much. I only join when summoned.”