Consumers are acquiring multiple connections through devious means to take advantage of lower slab rates

Are your power bills hitting the roof? Having a second kitchen can help! For, a second kitchen will be construed by the power distribution authorities as proof of another domestic establishment, for grant of a second connection. The power consumption may, then, be divided between two meters, so that higher slab rates are avoided.

Second kitchen or not, many consumers in the city and other areas under central discom are acquiring multiple connections through devious means to take advantage of lower slab rates. While power thefts are usually cited as major reason for loss of revenue, these illegal connections often go unnoticed.

Reason: theft may be detected at the transformer level by comparing the units transmitted with units metered, but physical inspections are the only way to detect unauthorised meters. Unauthorised consumption constitutes a fourth of the total cases of pilferage and misuse found during recent inspections, officials say.

The discom’s rule book says domestic establishments are distinguished along the number of kitchens, as one house is construed to have only one kitchen. To circumvent this rule, house owners either bribe the local officials to obtain more connections or show part of the house as rented out.

In apartment complexes, separate connections are obtained for elevators and water pumps, thereby bringing down the slabs.

This brings huge advantage, owing to the tariff structure which entails higher energy charges for higher consumption. Beyond 200 units, the tariff is especially taxing and reaches up to Rs.8.38 per unit at its maximum.

For example, if a consumer burns up 800 units of power in a month, having a single connection will result in a bill of over Rs.5,500. If he divides the loads between two meters, the bill will be reduced by nearly Rs.1,100. When spread across four meters, it will come down further by about Rs.1,200.

There are also consumers with three or four meters in one household, officials say. While those already using multiple meters are at a clear advantage vis-à-vis the recently raised power tariffs, there is the danger of more people resorting to such measures to avoid exorbitant bills.

Consumers using domestic connections for commercial purpose also fall into the unauthorised category. The discom too does not have strong deterrents in place to discourage such practices focusing on recovering the amount lost. Even then, the assessment amounts in such cases run into crores of rupees.

Illegal connections

While the number of unauthorised connections caught between July 2011 and March 2012 stood at 4,552, which is just about 12 per cent of the total cases of 37,872, the amount to be recovered from them stood at Rs.25.55 crore, which is nearly 27 per cent of the total assessed amount of over Rs.95 crore.

More In: Hyderabad