The Delhi government Wednesday announced a new scheme to rein in landlords charging arbitrary power tariff from tenants by relaxing conditions to install prepaid meters, which was allowed in the capital for the first time in 2017.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the prepaid meters will help lakhs of tenants across the city avail the benefits of his government’s schemes in the power sector, including the 100% bill rebate to those consuming up to 200 units, and 50% rebate to households consuming 201-400 units per month.
On October 10, 2017, the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) allowed installation of prepaid meters “for the first time” for tenants and applicants for temporary connections. The order was signed by DERC member B P Singh as the panel didn’t have a chairperson then.
“The 2017 order allowed prepaid meters with stringent conditions. Now, we’ve made the process easier by doing away with the need to get a no-objection certificate from the landlord. Discoms are also on board, which is why helpline numbers have been issued,” said a senior government official.
Making the announcement, Kejriwal said the scheme has been named ‘Mukhyamantri Kirayedaar Bijli Yojana’. He also sought to assuage the concerns of landlords, saying they need not worry as this won’t encourage tenants to assert false ownership.
“Tenants were unable to avail benefits of our schemes. In many cases, one building has multiple tenants, but every family draws power from one connection and the total consumption naturally crosses the subsidy slabs. It results in tenants paying Rs 8-10 per unit consumption. In case they wanted to install separate meters, NOCs were needed from landlords. But landlords were hesitant to issue NOCs, fearing tenants might end up asserting ownership. We’ve found legal and technological solutions to all these issues,” Kejriwal said.
Delhi Power Minister Satyendar Jain said the cost to install prepaid meters would be Rs 6,000, including a security deposit of Rs 3,000.
The proposal first came up after the MCD polls in 2017. Extending the benefits of power subsidy to tenants was one of AAP’s poll planks during the 2017 MCD polls, which the BJP won.
Kejriwal said the prepaid meters will work just like prepaid mobile connections, wherein consumers pay in advance to make calls. Here, payments must be made in advance to draw power. “It will be programmed for people to benefit from the available waivers. For this, tenants don’t need permission from landlords,” he said. On the potential cost of the project, Kejriwal said it depends on the demand for prepaid meters.
In July, the Centre announced plans to change all electricity meters to prepaid smart meters by 2022, to make power distribution more efficient. “Smart metering would empower consumers with tools to conserve energy and plan their electricity usage efficiently,” the power ministry had said.
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