Greengrocer commits suicide after served Rs8,64000 electricity bill in India

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A man walks past electricity pylons as he returns from work in Soweto, outside Johannesburg May 15, 2012. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

NEW DELHI: A poor 36-year-old greengrocer allegedly committed suicide after served with Rs 8,64,000 electricity bill instead of Rs 2,803 power bill in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra state of India.

Jagannath Nehaji Shelke 36, a vegetable vendor allegedly committed suicide after he was served an electricity bill of Rs 8.64 lakh for the month of March. The deceased took the extreme step as he was distressed after several visits to the local office of the state-run Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MSEDCL) did not yield any results, the family sources alleged.

The incident took place in Bharatnagar locality within Pundliknagar police station limits, said, officials. Shelke had left behind a suicide note which stated that he was frustrated with the exorbitant bill since his household did not consume electricity beyond Rs 1,000 on an average every month.

While the power distribution firm MSEDCL initially rejected the charges, it later acknowledged the mistake and said the actual bill amount was around Rs 2,803. In the last week of April, Shelke was served a bill of Rs 8.64 lakh after 61,178 units of electricity was charged to him. MSEDCL officials said that units should have been 6,117.8.

Acting against the blunder, the power distributor has suspended an account assistant at the power utility, Sushil Kashinath Koli, for alleged dereliction of duty, officials said. However, reports claimed that the firm only acted against its employee after the deceased’s suicide note was widely circulated on social media.

His family members demanded the immediate arrest of the officials responsible for the tragedy under charges of abetment of suicide. They have said that they would not cremate Shelke’s body, which is in the morgue of a local hospital, till the arrest.