New Delhi: Recently, the Delhi government has announced that households using up to 200 units of electricity won’t have to pay their power bills. It had also announced 50% subsidy for those who use 201-400 units of electricity. However, this move is unlikely to benefit tenants living in the city, as most of them are forced to pay according to the whims of their landlords.
Every month, Delhi embraces thousands of people coming to the city either in search of education or jobs. The city has, in fact, certain areas that are suitable for high-income people who can spend a good amount on rent and there are also areas that are affordable for students and those who do not wish to spend much on rent. While the first category of people get less exploited in terms of spending too much on electricity bills, it is the second set of people that ends up spending way more than the electricity units they use. The reason behind this is that there are many landlords who charge a fixed rate for each electricity unit consumed.
The landlords who have sub-let their rooms fix their rate for each electricity unit consumed despite there being an electricity sub-meter installed at their residence.
The amount charged to tenants is relatively higher than even non-subsidised electricity rates set for different slabs. As per the previous subsidy scheme, which was applicable between March 2018 and 31 July this year, those who consumed between 0-200 units were charged Rs 1 per unit instead of Rs 3, and those using 201-400 units were paying Rs 2.5 instead of 4.5. However, tenants are charged a fixed rate which varies between Rs 7 to Rs 13 depending on the neighborhood.
While the amount is fixed at Rs 8 per unit in South Delhi’s Munirka, in students-populated areas like Satya Niketan and North Delhi’s Indra Vihar and Vijay Nagar, the fixed rate per unit is Rs. 10, Rs. 7 and Rs. 8 respectively. Many students of these areas told The Sunday Guardian that they have no option but to accept terms and conditions set by their house or paying guest (PG) owner.
A student of Maitreyi College staying in a PG at Satya Niketan said, “I pay Rs 12 per unit to my PG owner. Earlier it was Rs 13. But when some parents complained, the owner reduced the amount to Re 1.” In Satya Niketan, per unit charge for electricity varies from Rs 10 to Rs 13 depending on the whims of the owner. Sugham, a student of Chanakya Academy, said: “I have been staying here for two years. Initially, I was living in a one room flat where I had to pay Rs 12 per unit. Two months back, I shifted to a nearby 1 BHK flat with my friend. Here, our rent is a bit higher than the usual rent for the same-size of flat. However, here we have a separate electricity meter. So, now we pay as per the government-set rate.”
The situation is the same in areas like Mukherjee Nagar, Sangam Vihar, Deoli, East of Kailash, Ber Sarai and several other areas. Households in most of these areas may consume less than 200 units in a month, but every month they end up paying a huge amount for electricity.
Asked whether the tenants can be brought into the newly launched subsidy scheme, an official of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) said: “There is no solution to this problem. Tenants can be entitled to the subsidy only if they have separate electricity meter. But in many cases three-four tenants live in the same house. So sub-meters are used to count individual consumption. In such cases, total consumption exceeds the subsidy limit and, hence, individual tenants cannot take the benefits of subsidy.”