CHENNAI: If you are living in a house without a kitchen or with friends or co-workers exceeding six persons, you will be forced to pay electricity charges under the newly created common service category (LT 1-D) which costs Rs 8 per unit, and not the usual subsidised domestic tariff.
According to the latest tariff order by TNERC, ‘Dwelling Unit’ means an independent housing unit of residential purpose with separate facilities for living, cooking and maybe a part of a building.
The Tangedco, in its tariff petition, has sought to define a “dwelling unit”, according to the Tamil Nadu Combined Development and Building Rules, 2019, as an independent housing unit with separate facilities for living, cooking and sanitary requirements. However, the commission has rejected the condition of separate sanitary requirements in a dwelling unit as it may not be practical to be insisted upon for classification under the domestic tariff, as there are many row houses in all places throughout TN with the common sanitary facility.
In the tariff order, the commission also put a new condition on the applicability of domestic tariff - usage of an independent dwelling unit as “clubbed accommodation” by students or employees or bachelors for the residential purpose not exceeding six persons, without name board.
K Kathirmathiyon, secretary, Coimbatore Consumer Cause said new conditions for availing of domestic tariffs are not required. “What is the need for Tangedco to insist on a separate living room and kitchen? Such a condition will only affect the poor. Many poor families live in single-room cum kitchen houses. Will Tangedco charge such families under commercial tariff?” he asked.
‘Immigrants in 1 room purely domestic, not commercial’
Most students or workers who study or work away from their native places tend to take a house for rent with their friends, he said. “There is no commercial activity involved in it. It’s purely for domestic purposes. Then how can Tangedco charge under different tariff? TNERC has not applied its mind properly and they simply agreed to Tangedco’s request,” he said.
A senior Tangedco official said that in absence of separate cooking facilities, such premises would not be treated as a domestic residence.
“We have started physical verification of individual houses with more than one connection. If the premises was rented or leased out, they should submit the agreement. If family members were occupying it, the service connection should be in the occupant’s name. If not, we’ll issue a notice to merge services within 15 days. Failing which it will be automatically converted into the common service tariff LT 1-D,” the official said.
On the condition that no more than 6 students or workers should live in a residence to avail of domestic tariff, the official said that Tangedco did not seek any such changes and it was ordered by the commission on its own.