For nearly three years now, about 20 families residing in a 34-storeyed building at Tardeo say they have been paying for power bills that are five times higher than expected to Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST). The reason: there is only one temporary meter that calibrates the power consumption of the entire building, unlike individual meters that are provided to each resident of any other building.
A temporary meter is proffered in case a dwelling is under construction or there is no substation to manage the electricity supply to that building and others around it. The latter reason has necessitated a stopgap meter for Thakkar Tower. “We get a single electricity bill of around Rs 2.5 lakh for the entire building, which residents divide among themselves. We had been asking BEST to construct a substation and clear the hurdles for long,” said Satish Mehta, secretary and resident, Wellington View Co-operative Housing Society that has been formed for Thakkar Tower. Habitants claim if all the flats had individual meters then the total cost of power consumption wouldn’t have exceeded Rs 50,000 for every billing cycle. Finally, after months of waiting, the work on constructing a substation began in February this year. “BEST has promised to provide individual meters once the substation is ready. We have completed at least 70 per cent of the work,” said another resident of Thakkar Tower.
Work in progress
Denizens claim they had constructed a substation previously but BEST asked them to demolish it, as it hadn’t been authorised. “We have requested the society to complete all the formalities pertaining to the substation and permanent electricity supply. Once the substation is ready, we will remove the temporary meter,” said a BEST official.
Meanwhile, amidst these predicaments, Mumbai Fire Brigade had sent a letter to BEST and BMC in April-end to verify the dangers of having temporary meters. The assistant divisional fire officer had also inspected this building. The contents of this letter mention that this particular temporary meter, on three-phase power supply, is connected to electrical appliances in the flats, pump room, lifts, staircase and lift lobby lights, and would be consuming considerable power units. “There are great chances of occurrence of fire as the connected power is less as compared to its demand/ requirement for a residential high-rise building. The transmission of energy through the conductor may cause melting of its insulation,” it said, apart from mentioning other irregularities.
Sources in BEST said they had recently visited the building after receiving this communication from the fire brigade. “We have sent our observations to the fire brigade and the society,” said a BEST official. BEST officials claimed they have sanctioned a load of 130 Kw and installed a temporary meter. However, they also asserted there was no possibility of overload or a fire as the supply recorded for month of May was 66 Kw.