HC stays TNEB order levying extra charge on apartments

CHENNAI MAY 22. A Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) notification levying a flat charge of Rs. 10,000 for single phase power connection and Rs. 15,000 for three phase connection in every new flat in Chennai was stayed by the Madras High Court.

Justice Prabha Sridevan, vacation judge, granted the interim injunction on Tuesday on a petition filed by the Tamil Nadu Flat Promoters' Association president, S.T.S. Luxminarasimhan, who challenged the March 16, 2000 order of the TNEB, which also provided for levying an erection charge of Rs. 15,000 for single phase and Rs. 25,000 for three phase power connection in commercial complexes. The order was to be applicable in case of fresh electricity connections for flats newly constructed by flat promoters in Chennai, and will not be applicable to construction or expansion of independent houses.

Describing the proposal as `totally arbitrary and irrational', the petitioner said that as far as the TNEB was concerned, the expenditure incurred by it for providing service connection to flats is much less than the one provided for independent houses. Even though there will be separate meters for different flats, the Board would not incur any additional expenditure while laying the cable or installing the pillar box, whereas it has to serve individual consumers severally and independently. Hence, levying extra charge on apartments was irrational, the petitioner-association submitted. The burden of the fresh levy was sought to be fastened upon the flat promoters only, that too, in addition to the existing levy such as service connection charges, current consumption deposit, meter caution deposit and development charges. The new proposal has failed to make any reasonable distinction between the group of consumers, the petition said, adding that a person who might have acquired a mere 100 sq.ft. and another with 5,000 sq.ft. were bound to pay a flat rate of charges, irrespective of the fact that they were not similarly situated.

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