Prospective tenants in Old City have begun demanding that landlords slash rents. The reason: surging power bills. The alternative: allow them to tamper meters.
The demands have only intensified after authorities increased power consumption charges and extended the Fuel Surcharge Adjustment (FSA).
“I was surprised when a person demanded that I bring down the rent by Rs. 1,000 after knowing that I do not permit meter-tampering, which helps reduce power bills. I settled for a reduction of Rs. 500, instead of allowing power theft which would invite trouble,” says Abdul Jilani, a house owner at Old City’s Shastripuram.
Rampant power theft
Power theft is rampant in certain areas of Old City with the authorities pegging it between 35 and 40 per cent in APCPDCL’s South Circle. A few areas register more than 80 per cent power theft and the authorities’ efforts to contain it are fiercely opposed by the people.
Not all house owners are treading the honesty path. In order to avoid losing tenants, some permit meter-tampering.
“It is a way of life in Old City. If I do not permit it, then I will not get any tenant,” says Syed Azeem, a businessman from Kalapather.
Mohsin Shareef, a house rental agent says, “Big families prefer big houses where meter tampering is allowed. They are ready to shell out a few hundred rupees more towards rent, as they can save some money by paying meagre power bills.”
Discom officials say they are aware of the practice and often raid premises in different areas.
“It is the property owner who faces legal problems in case of raid. It is they who have to cough up the compounding fee. We also calculate the power consumed and recover the money,” says an official.