MCD polls: Delivering power subsidy to tenants will be an uphill task
Power discoms have almost no control over the sub-meters set up by house owners for tenants, and hence, Arvind Kejriwal’s poll promise of 50% subsidy on power bills might not reach them.MCD Elections 2017 Updated: Apr 28, 2017 11:29 IST
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s promise of extending 50% subsidy on electricity bills and free water scheme to the city’s tenants after the MCD polls has brought cheer among lakhs of people living in rented accommodations.
But fulfilling the promise is going to be an uphill task for the government, as distribution companies that implement the power scheme mostly have no control over electricity consumption of those living on rent, especially in buildings where a part of the house is let out. This is because tenants pay their electricity bills to house owners, who are the only ones eligible for the subsidy as they have the main metered connection with Discoms.
“The government will have to bring out a policy, making it mandatory for house owners to install main meters in all the floors or rooms that have been given on rent. Only then will the discoms be able to issue electricity bills to every tenant and give subsidy to those who avail up to 400 units every month,” discom officials told HT.
At least 30% (Census 2011) of all families in Delhi live in rented accommodations and a majority of them have been complaining of being left out of Aam Aadmi Party’s two flagship schemes. In most cases, the owner’s house has the main meter and tenants have sub-meters. Power department officers, however, said the the discoms do not maintain a record of sub-meters.
Officials from the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) said that to register a metered connection, a tenant will have to submit a rent agreement and an NOC from the land owner, which could be an obstacle. “House owners would surely protest this move. But, if achieved, it could help fix the problem of tenants being overcharged by house owners,” an official said.
Most tenants have to pay R 8-9 per unit even if their monthly consumption is as low as 150 units.
“The bill comes as one and ideally we should be charged as per the mandated slabs. But that doesn’t happen as the rent agreement expects each tenant to pay for their consumed units, based on the highest tariff, with 10 per cent surcharge and service tax,” said Rishi Dey, a resident of CR Park.
Though the Delhi government provides upto 20,000 litres of water per household per month at no cost, tenants in Delhi many a times do not benefit from the scheme, as many houses do not have separate sub-meters to measure the tenants’ water consumption.
According to Delhi Rent Act of 1995, the landlord is entitled to charge the tenant for the water they consume. However, with no separate sub-meter, there is no plausible way to ascertain the amount. The renters usually pay a pre-fixed amount every month to the landlord for the water they consume, irrespective of the volume, especially in properties with multiple tenants.
“I am a little confused about how they plan to do this. Delhi Jal Board has direct metering. The billing is based on the meter, which is usually in the name of the owner. The water charges are pre-decided between the tenant and the landlord. Had there been sub-meters, then the DJB could possibly monitor this. But with no such provision in place currently, it may prove difficult to implement,” said Jyoti Sharma, founder of FORCE, an NGO that works in the field of water.