Fleecing firms Bescom way

Collecting excess fees from JC layout after terming it an abandoned layout


Industries in JC Layout have been paying a different tariff for power installation, besides a higher quarterly minimum deposit due to the Bescom’s new policy. Since 2007, the Bescom has been levying tariff, which is much higher than the cost levied on other industries.

The Bescom authorities contend that the charges are high because the promoters have abandoned the execution of infrastructure work and the licencee is supposed to recover infrastructure developmental charges as per the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) rules.

“According to rules before 2000, for each site up to 1,200 sqft in an abandoned layout the amount collected should not exceed Rs 4,000 per kw. For sites measuring more than 1,200 sqft area the amount is between Rs 4,000 and 12,000 per kw. The slab differs for urban and town limits. But there is no provision of ‘abandoned layout’ as per the new regulations,” explained Sridhar Prabhu, a power expert.

Reasonable recovery
Under Section 46 of the Electricity Act- 2003, the KERC authorises a licencee to collect charges from persons who require electricity supply, while Section 43 says that the recovered expenditure must be reasonable.

“But here we are insisted on paying a sum of Rs 4000 per KW, we are told that over one crore rupees is collected in this regard,” say the industrialists over here.

Power experts are surprised on how JC Layout be considered as “abandoned,” when the licencee (Bescom) has been granting connections since 1975. It has so far installed 201 connections.

The first connection in the layout was granted to JT garments in 1975 and the most recent one was granted on January 28, 2008.

“The question of lack of development does not arise at all as the definition of abandoned layout does not exist,” said an industrialist at JC Layout.

Interestingly, the Bescom Director Technical, who is also the chairman of the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF), while disposing of a matter related to this layout had ruled that it was not “abandoned.”

But, the Bescom cited the same provision to levy charges of Rs 92,000 and Rs 1.2 lakh on two industrialists of the layout Sumangala S Chiploonkar and Srikar respectively.
The duo had approached the CGRF, which ruled in their favour.

Challenged
The Bescom had challenged it before the KERC Ombudsman, who upheld the order of CGRF on February 14, 2008. The power utility further dragged the matter to the High Court in April 2008.

Justice N K Patil who heard the matter has referred to the Ombudsman to dispose the matter within three months’ time after giving fair opportunity to either parties to object.
However, the matter has been posted for orders before the Ombudsman.
When contacted the KERC authorities said that the order is due this week.

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