In the first part, the writer explained how the UPERC, builders and the discoms played a pivotal role in the multipoint connections issue. Let us read further to know more about this contentious matter, which troubled the consumers across Noida, Greater Noida, and Ghaziabad.
Builders charged over Rs 1 lakh from each resident
The UPERC along with the discoms and the builders overlooked this fact that charging an additional amount of Rs 50-60,000 when flat owners had already paid Rs 1-1.5 lakh is unjustified. The big question is how and who allowed them to charge such a hefty amount from the consumers. The connivance between the discoms and the builders and unclear rules of UPERC are the reasons behind such an arbitrary move.
Builders mint huge money on a monthly basis
The issue is not only about unruly builders and paying Rs 1-1.5 lakh to get new connections, as told by residents. Charging consumers more than the fixed charge per unit puts an unwanted burden on them.
To begin with, the builders had collected Rs 20,000-25,000 per kilowatt as load charge from the residents and made crores of rupees. If this was not enough, they are minting huge amount of money by charging monthly fees.
For instance, if a builder has given 3 kilowatt of the load to 1500 flat owners, then he will charge a fixed monthly fee according to 4500 kilowatt. According to the current tariff, approximately Rs 4.5 lakh was collected every month. Whereas the builder took the load of 1500-2000 kilowatt for which he had to amass Rs 1.5-2 lakh as load charge. By doing this, he succeeded in making 2.5 lakh rupees.
Similarly, the per unit tariff fixed by the discoms is Rs 4.50 to 6.00 but most of the builders charge Rs 6.00 to 7.00 from the consumers, managing to make Rs 200-250 per flat every month. This is a sheer violation of the conditions laid by the distribution companies, which mandate the builders to charge residents for power supply on no profit no loss basis.
Amassing of maintenance fee through 'smart' meters
The issue related to maintenance too cannot be ignored in this regard. According to the rules set by the discoms, only power charge can be collected from the meter than any other fee but builders get things arranged according to their wish during the construction of the project itself. Despite being aware of the rules, the builders install multipoint smart meters in every flat which is capable of keeping the accounts related to maintenance fee, power backup fee besides the actual power charge that is consumed monthly.
This activity hints at key questions- how did the officials of the discoms allow the builders to install such smart meters and why did they overlook it if such a thing was taking place?
By installing such meters, builders made sure they have the money for 'maintenance' from the aggrieved residents. It is important to note here that single point smart meters provided by the discoms cost Rs 4000-5000 whereas builders charged up to Rs 25000 from the consumers for multipoint ones.
Are RWAs, AOAs partners in crime?
Even the apartment owners' associations and the residents' welfare associations are no exception when it comes to charging maintenance fee through multipoint smart meters. This is the reason the RWAs besides builders are not in favour of providing direct connections to the consumers. Doing so will spoil their intention. A proper system to manage the maintenance of the society and regulate the power tariff is lacking in view of the increasing multi-storey flats and lakhs of residents residing in it. The development authority and the registrar department too have miserably failed in this regard.
UPERC neglects 'public interest'
Well, it has become a thing of past but the point here is that it is the responsibility of discoms to set up power systems to provide direct connections to the consumers. Due to its vague terms and conditions, the residents had to face financial stress in the name of power connections. It is contradictory realising that the government is spending crores of rupees to provide electricity to each household and that too within fixed tariffs.
Sadly, people belonging to the lower-middle and upper-middle class had to pay over Rs 1 lakh for this essential service. It is an unjust burden on the consumers emerged due to the connivance of corrupt and unruly approach. The UPERC cannot wash off its hands either because being a regulator, its prime objective was to strike a balance between consumers, suppliers, and producers but it turned a blind eye to cater to the general public. It is worrisome!
Change in the rules needed for 'public interest'
It is state government's and discoms' responsibility to come up with a solution to resolve this issue. Firstly, the Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Authority, by keeping a balanced approach, should take measures favouring the residents and make proper amendments for providing direct connections to the consumers. Secondly, they should bear the cost of laying power lines and system instead of burdening the public.
Robust system required to resolve the issue
Besides, the state government should make stringent rules for maintenance and fee payment in residential societies. By doing this, the dependency on meters will end whereas revenue through maintenance fee can be received without any delay.
(Disclaimer: The writer is a senior business journalist residing in Crossings Republik, Ghaziabad. City Spidey neither endorses it nor is responsible for the same.)