The Uttar Pradesh electricity regulatory commission (UPERC) has directed the Paschimanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (PVVNL) to take legal action against a developer for violation of tariff order and overcharging consumers. It has also asked the power distributor to report to it about the action taken. The order comes in response to a complaint by residents of Amrapali Sapphire housing complex in Sector 45 in June that the builder has been violating electricity code and overcharging them for power.
A number of power consumers in high-rise housing complexes developed by private builders in Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad have been complaining against builders for alleged violation of electricity code by taking money from their prepaid electricity cards for maintenance charges. “The Amrapali Group has been violating electricity code in the Sapphire complex for months. We recharge our coupon to pay monthly electricity bills, but the builder deducts maintenance amount from our account, violating norms. The process of getting electricity bills and maintenance charges should be separate. The builder did not stop the practice even after complaints,” said RK Shrivastava, a retired naval officer living in the residential complex.
“The builder tampers with the electricity meter and deducts maintenance charges too. We hope strong action is taken against offenders,” said another resident Ajay Tyagi.
The Amrapali group denied the allegations and said it had stopped the practice after residents informed them about it.
“I had rectified the error at the time and replied to UPERC’s notice. We have a separate system to charge electricity bill and maintenance. If there is any problem, I will address it,” said Anil Sharma, chairman-cum-managing director, Amrapali Group.
Over two months ago, the UPERC had asked PVNNL to probe the matter and revert to it. The regulatory commission had forwarded the complaint received from Amrapali Sapphire residents on June 7 to PVVNL. In response, PVVNL had sent a report to UPERC on June 17 informing it that prima facie it appeared that the builder had flouted norms.
The UPERC then directed PVVNL in its order dated August 23 to take legal action against the builder and report compliance. It also directed PVVNL to ensure that no builder repeats such actions and all power consumers are charged as per the tariff fixed by the commission.
However, PVVNL officials in Noida are yet to act on the UPERC order.
“I have not yet received the orders issued from Meerut zone. Once I get them, I will take legal action as per the direction,” said Pankaj Goel, executive engineer, electric urban distribution division 3, Noida, UPPCL.
This practice of deducting maintenance charges from prepaid electricity accounts is not limited to one housing society. Several builders and residents’ welfare associations (RWAs) in Gautam Budh Nagar and Ghaziabad have been carrying out this practice.
Some of them said they deduct maintenance because many residents do not pay maintenance on time on their own.
“We deduct both electricity bill and maintenance from the prepaid electricity meters daily as per consumption because it is not easy to recover dues. The RWA cannot run after every resident and force them to pay maintenance as many do not pay despite repeated reminders,” said Mahesh Sharma, secretary, Arunima Place RWA in Sector 4, Vasundhara.
Goel said he has not received complaints of such nature from any other residential tower except Sapphire yet.