After SG Impressions 58, now 15 residents of KDP Grand Savannah, a high-rise in Raj Nagar Extension, have emerged victorious against their AOA after they pressed charges in the court of electricity consumer grievance redressal forum of Meerut in November 2018. The reason? These few residents claimed that the AOA has charging way more under the head of fixed charges of electricity.
“The AOA was looting the residents in the name of fixed charges. We were charged more than 500 per cent of the fixed charge sanctioned by PVVNL,” explained Dharmendra Chaudhary, one of the petitioners.
He continued, “The AOA was illegally collecting Rs 4 lakh extra in fixed charges from the residents without providing any particulars for it.”
The court in its judgement had asked the AOA to discontinue the practice of illegally charging Rs 400-500 extra from the residents. Also, it has ordered AOA to return the amount collected from the residents under the head of fixed charge from April 1, 2016.
Apart from that, the court has also ordered action against AOA under Section 142 of the Electricity Act 2003 for non-compliance of PVVNL guidelines, and ignoring multiple notices which the PVVNL served to the AOA.
The court, in its order, stated that in 2017, PVVNL had served multiple notices to the AOA after it was found that the AOA was charging a surcharge and fixed charge of electricity higher than provisioned by the power department.
The court said that notice letters were issued on 17 July, 11 August, 19 August and 19 December, yet the AOA failed to comply. Also, even after more than two years of the takeover of the maintenance from the builder, the AOA did not change the name, and the bill continues to be issued under the name of KDP Buildwell, the promoter of the society. This again is against the PVVNL guidelines.
The court has asked PVVNL to ensure action against the AOA over non- adherence to the guidelines.
Besides, the court has also asked the AOA to open a separate bank account for electricity charges. “Till now, the power bills and monthly maintenance were charged under the head of maintenance and were collected in a single bank account,” said Choudhary.
However, even after the court order, the KDP AOA maintains that they never overcharged the fixed charges of electricity. “The extra we charged was meant for the power needs of the common area,” said Rajkumar Tyagi, president of AOA.
However, in the court, the petitioners submitted proof that since April 1, 2016, AOA has been charging 15 paise per square foot as a common area electricity fee, which is already included in the Common Area Maintenance (CAM) charges.
When City Spidey asked Tyagi why the AOA needed to charge electricity bill for the common area separately when it is already being charged in the maintenance, he dodged the question.
According to provisions under the Electricity Act 2003, each society is registered as one consumer with PVVNL and the electricity load is fixed for each society. The society then sublets the load to individual houses and collects power dues. The societies can charge a fixed amount of 5% on individual electricity bill — but not beyond. The fixed charge is to be paid to the PVVNL.
Here’s where the trouble starts...
The AOAs, wrongfully, overcharge the fixed amount, and then, the pre-paid meter installed in every house is used for both power bills and maintenance funds. It also does not provide electricity bills to the residents!
Indirapuram-based Federation of Apartments Owners Association and Federation of Apartments Owners Association of Raj Nagar Extension welcomed the decision as well.
Alok Kumar, president of FedAOA stressed that AOAs need to be transparent in matters of money. “The AOA should give particulars of the money they charge. It’s not a profit-making body — it exists to make lives of fellow residents better,” he added.
A similar verdict from the court of electricity consumer grievance redressal forum came in January 2019 where 18 residents of a housing society based in Rajnagar Extension, SG Impressions 58, had challenged in the court the RWA practice of extracting a fixed monthly percentage on the electricity bill.
In July 2017, in view of repeated complaints by individual power consumers, the power department had issued notices to over 200 AOAs and builders across Ghaziabad for issuing inflated electricity bills to the residents.
In Indirapuram alone, 66 housing societies were served notices from the department.