The Bengaluru Electricity Supply Company’s (Bescom) move to bring sewage treatment plants (STPs) and fire pumps in apartment complexes under a different and higher tariff structure has not gone down well with residents of these complexes.
Earlier this month, L&T South City, an apartment complex with nearly 2,000 units, received as many as 11 demand notices for an additional payment of ₹54.09 lakh, as back billing for the connection to the STP for the last 12 months including a high penalty. This was after an inspection by Bescom’s Vigilance Team, who maintained that connections to STPs and fire pumps fall under a separate LT5 category, which applies to industrial and commercial establishments.
A member of the South City Maintenance Committee told The Hindu that they were initially being billed under the LT2A category. “Bescom officials claim that the change from LT2A to LT5 category was notified in 2010. They now say that we will be charged with retrospective effect from 2010, including penalty, arrears and interest. This alone will come up to ₹2.5 crore. That apart, our monthly electricity bill will also increase to ₹2.5 lakh a month,” he said. “This is not justified. Even if we were to come under the LT5 category and if it was notified in 2010 itself, why did Bescom not intimate us so far? When we asked, Bescom officials claimed that they were not required to inform us.”
This is not a lone case. Many apartment complexes have reportedly faced similar issues.
The Bangalore Apartment Federation (BAF) also maintained that the Bescom’s move was untenable and questioned the rationale behind the change in tariff structure. The federation said that instead of incentivising the apartments with STPs, Bescom was penalising them. “This does not augur well for apartment complexes that have followed rules with regard to installing STPs. Bescom should ideally put in place rebates and other incentives. It makes no sense that apartments are penalised by one civic agency for following the rules of another,” said Muralidhar Rao, vice-president, BAF.
He added that BAF would help its member associations take the issue with Bescom’s officials to its logical conclusion.
Meanwhile, Bescom’s senior officials said that they got to know of the issue only during the tariff hearing at the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC). “The Vigilance Wing is going strictly by the rulebook. There is no category for STPs in apartment complexes. However, since the issue was raised during the hearing, we will wait for the KERC order,” he said.