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High-rise apartment housing complex issues

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Urban Development
First and foremost, is the question of which of the many associated Acts is best suited to management of High-rise Apartment Housing Complexes. In this regard, a lot of debate has already happened across a wide section of stake-holders, and my take-aways are summarised in the blog-post titled "KAOA BEST SUITED, AFTER CORRECTION OF RERA ANOMALIES" accessible here (posted on PRAJA in Sept 2020. The mother blog, of which this post is a part, captures the essence of the debate).
 
Muralidhar Rao
 
PS: I am also re-producing here a few more of my earlier posts, which largely pertain to high-rise apartment housing complexes.
 
 

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murali772's picture

HT equipment in apartment complexes

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In addition to the problems faced by a consumer, listed by me on 19th Dec,'08 (here), the following too need to be noted by apartment complexes, having HT (11 KV) installations in their premises: 
 
As per Karnataka rules, one year from the date of commissioning of the transformer installation in your premises, the entire installation becomes the property of BESCOM, even if you have paid for it (through your builder/ developer). As such, the maintenance of the same is the responsibility of Bescom. However, left to them, they will never do it (like also in the case of roadside transformers), and you will land up with a bigger problem eventually (as many complexes have leanred already at huge costs to themselves). So, the best practice would be to entrust the maintenance of the transformer installation too to a Class 1 electrical contractor, alongwith doing so in the case of the other equipment, like switchgear, gen-sets, etc, annually, when you receive the "compliance certification" notice from the Electrical Inspectorate.
 
The transformer installation maintenance would mainly involve 
a) testing the dielectric strength of the oil, filtering it in case it is below the required level, topping it up with fresh charge in case the level has dropped below the minimum in the indicator window,
b) re-activating/ re-charging the gel in the Silica Gel breather,
c) checking the lightning arrestors, fuses, and gang-operating switches 
d) megger testing of the earth pits, and re-activating them where necessary,
e) inspecting the surfaces of the transformer, the associated switch-boxes, the pole structure, etc for paint peel-off (leading to rusting), etc, and cleaning up and paint touching up (or re-painting), as may be required.
f) clearing all the under-growth in the yard, as also any tree branches hanging over the yard.
 
The Electrical Inspectorate inspection also covers lifts, and they have now mandated that their certification has to be done by a registered vendor. As such, it would be best to have an AMC with the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) itself. The AMC copy may be attached to the compliance report when filing the same with the Electrical Inspectorate.
 
Note:
1) Transformer 'burst/ blast" is a mis-understood term. Whenever a fault occurs on the circuit, the MCB (main circuit breaker) trips, with a fairly loud noise, which is mis-understood as a burst/ blast. This is not an uncommon occurance, particularly given Bescom's poor maintenance practices. And, since the fault invariably occurs on the HT side, only Bescom personnel (or personnel supervised by a qualified Electrical Contractor, after the equipment is isolated by Bescom personnel) can attend to it. 
 
2) Yes, having to maintain the transformer installation at our cost, when the ownership has been transferred to them, is iniquitous. It can be challenged in a court. But, the better challenge would be to demand an end to the continued monopoly of the fully government-owned and thereby incapacitated Bescom (leading to the consumer having to suffer the iniquities listed in my post of 19-12-08 too), even as Delhi has transformed on all these counts after switching to a PPP model - check here
 
Another factor that needs to be taken into consideration is that, between just the lot of us in the city domestic sector, we are burning up close to 11 million litres (11,000 tanker loads - to get a ready picture) of diesel every year, thanks to unreliable power supply - check my post of 19th Sept,'17 here.
 
PS: This post was first made by me on 28-5-2020 under the blog captioned "Imperatives of Privatisation of Power Distribution", accessible here.
 
 
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

TARIFF LEVEL APPLICABLE FOR "COMMERCIAL" USE IN APT COMPLEXES

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KERC Notification No. KERC/D/14/16-17, Bengaluru, dated 22-11-2016, has amended Clause 3.1.1(A)(b) of its (Recovery of Expenditure for Supply of Electricity) Regulations 2004 as below: 
 
1) In the case of buildings with both domestic load and commercial load including industrial load, the tariff for common area loads shall be domestic if the commercial load (treating industrial load as commercial load) is 25% or less of the total load including sanctioned load and any additional load requisitioned of the entire building (irrespective of ownership of the individual units); 
 
2) Such commercial use, if any in our complex, is well below 25% as per above KERC regulation and hence our entire power consumption in common areas, including club house must be under LT2 tariff only. 
 
Typical of what are covered under "commercial", in the above definition, are club-house, meeting hall, swimming pool, etc. It will also cover set-ups like a cafetaria, kirana shop, ironing station, etc, even if outsourced to vendors for operations, on a rental basis, as long as all of these cater exclusively to the residents. The sum of these loads will generally remain well within the 25% (of the sanctioned load) limit allowed.  
 
In spite of this, there have been instances of high-handedness on the part of Bescom's vigilance wing, including of issuance of demand for payment of huge penalties, disconnection of power supply, filing of FIR for theft (against office bearers), etc. These were subsequently withdrawn, a few through intervention at MD level. 
 
Even with all of the above, sometime in June 2020, such a threat was made to an apartment complex. Wnen, after checking with me, the MC members stood their ground, the Bescom official backed off. These are essentially some unscrupulous sections of the officialdom trying to extract bribes, and MC members are advised not to fall for these tactics. 
 
PS: This post was first made by me on 19-6-2020 under the blog captioned "Imperatives of Privatisation of Power Distribution", accessible here.
 
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

STEPS TO BE TAKEN IN CASE OF METER DEFECT/ BURN-OUT

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In case a meter is seen to have developed a fault, or got burnt out, all that is required of a Consumer is to notify the jurisdictional AEE through a letter, and obtain an acknowledgement for the same. The rest of the work is largely that of Bescom
 
The above is derived on the basis of what is stated in the "Conditions of Supply of Electricity of Distribution Licensees in the State of Karnataka", relevant excerpts from which have been reproduced (in italics) below.
 
If as @ Cl 28 (a) below, a demand is raised for the cost of the meter, the payment may be made by cheque/ DD, and the matter of getting the report from the meter-testing lab and billing adjustment thereof may be pursued*
 
*The association Homecare Manager should be in a position to facilitate all of these.
 
Page 57:
Cl 27(g): All meters not recording shall be replaced or repaired within a maximum period of 15 days from the date of report by the Consumer/ employees of the Licensee. In case the same is not done, the Licensee shall pay a rebate of 5% on the monthly energy bills after the expiry of the 15 day period till the meter is replaced.
 
Cl 28.00: Replacement of burnt out meters 
 
a) The cost of burnt out meter shall be collected from the Consumer either in cash or by crossed cheque, and the burnt out meter shall be replaced by a good meter immediately without any lapse of time 
 
b) If the meter of required capacity is not readily available, the installation shall be connected on "direct connection basis" and immediate action taken to fix a good meter to the installation in 3 days.
 
c) The consumption during the direct connection period shall be computed on a pro-rata basis based on the recorded consumption of the previous month, or in the month in which the new metre was fixed. 
 
d) The released burnt meter shall be sent to the approved meter testing laboratory. If the meter is burnt out due to mistake of the Consumer or fault in the Consumer premises, there shall be no refund of the cost of the meter collected by the Licensee, and if it is due to technical reasons like voltage fluctuation etc, attributable to the system constraints, the cost of meter collected by the Licensee shall be adjusted against future energy charges of the Consumer commencing from the immediate succeeding month after receipt of the test report under intimation to the Consumer. 
 
e) The meter testing laboratory shall send a report to the Consumer and the Sub-Division Office duly recording the test results with in 7 days and remarks regarding refund of cost of the meter collected to the consumer. 
 
f) Test results and the remarks of the meter testing laboratory shall be recorded in the revenue ledger maintained at the Sub-Division Office. 
 
Note: However, if more than one metre are burnt in the same area due to system constraints, such meters shall be replaced by the Licensee immediately without collecting the cost of the meter from the Consumer.
 
Page 62:
Cl 30.03: Additional security deposit (ASD) Existing consumers shall pay security deposit (ASD) as determined by the  Commission. 
 
Cl 30.04: Meter Security deposit (MSD) Meter security deposit is payable at the time of servicing of all new installations towards the meter/ metering equipment at the rates as per schedule of rates prescribed by the licensee from time to time except in respect of BJ/ KJ installations and IP set installations upto and inclusive of 10 HP under LT4(a)category. 
 
In respect of existing installations where MSD is not collected, MSD shall be collected at the prevailing schedule of rates whenever the is replaced. 
 
Cl 30.05: Applicable to all all security deposits 
a) The amount payable shall be rounded off to the next multiple of Rs 10/- 
b) Security deposit (ISD & ASD) and MSD shall be refunded by the Licensee on termination of the contract by either party after adjustment of dues if any. 
c) Interest on security deposit shall be paid as per KERC regulations, 2004. 
 
PS: This post was first made by me on 02-11-2021 under the blog captioned "Imperatives of Privatisation of Power Distribution", accessible here.
 
Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

exemption of fire-equipment load for assessing Contract Demand

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The fully government owned and thereby incapacitated Bescom finds itself handicapped in collecting its dues from various government agencies on time. This is apart from its being burdened by huge farmer subsidies, which, though provided for in the budget, are released to them much after they fall due (months & years even, apparently due to diversions to "popular projects"). All of these have resulted in Bescom suffering from huge short-falls in revenue, leading to its inability to take up even day-to-day maintenance on time, leave alone catering to expansions & modernisations.
 
Instead of addressing these issues directly, Bescom has chosen the easy way out by repeat increases of tariff levels for ready paying consumers, treating them as its "milch cows", in the process. With murmurs of protest beginning to emanate from these consumers too, Bescom has now adopted a new tactic of increasing the energy charges just marginally (and talking only about that in their press releases), while increasing the fixed charges hugely. As such, for an average consumer like me (residing in a 3BHK flat with 8 KW sanctioned load), while the energy charges have increased by a nominal 5% over the last two years, the fixed charges have gone up by over 36%. 
 
Another resident, who moved into a 2BHK flat in our complex about a year back, found her Bescom bills inordinately high, compared to where she was residing earlier, even with her lifestyle remaing more or less the same. Eventually, it was pinned down to the 8 KW sanctioned load, even for her 2BHK flat, compared to 2 KW for the house she was residing in earlier. With the huge repeat increases being levied now, she is now in the process of surrendering the excess of 6 KW - not an easy process, though! Many others are considering following suit too.
 
In the process, I decided to check on the Contract Demand (CD) for our complex (of 124 flats, spread over 3 towers), as a whole. We have three separate meters, one for each tower, for the common loads. During a "BAF ki baath" webinar around the time, a mention was made by someone of "fire equipment pumps" being exempt from being added on to the list of connected loads, for the purpose of assessing the CD. If that were to be allowed, we can surrender 65 KW x 2, pertaining to the two sets of our fire-equipment pumps, and effect savings of nearly Rs 30K on the monthly billings.
 
But the information on this was sketchy and we were unsure of our grounds. Meanwhile, another resident managed to locate a precedent in the matter, accessible @ https://arathimy.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/high-rise-buildings-fire-equipment-is-not-a-part-of-connected-load/ , pertaining to Brigade Millennium, Mayflower Block in JP Nagar 7th Phase (where the author of the blog, Ms Arathi Manay, was residing), salient excerpts from it reading as below:
 
Through a notification in Dec 2010, that can be seen here, BESCOM announced that though fire equipment is connected to the electricity, the load must not be taken into account when calculating arrears. This indicates that fire equipment should not be considered as connected load, bringing clarity when read along with the KERC/ BESCOM definition of connected load.
 
The link @ 'here' is not opening. With all of our searches, all we could locate was a rather faded picture of a Bescom notification in Kannada - check picture below:
 
The position is now clear, and we are going to be making our application for surrender of excess CD, accordingly.
 
Apparently, in earlier times, the builders were over-estimating the CD (for whatever reasons), and Bescom was happy to sanction whatever asked, since it meant higher revenues for them. But, it required a Arathi Manay to figure out the unfairness of it all, and take the matter upto Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission ( KERC) and have it corrected - kudo's to her.
 
And though all of this happened as far back as in 2010, Bescom seems to have kept it under wraps all this while, which is understandable. But, what is puzzling is how come none of the many "Bangalore Apartments Federation" (BAF) members, particularly some Governing Council members living in the same Brigade Millenium complex, wanted to even talk about it. Is BAF serving the interests of its members, or the vested interests of the various lobbies (& m----) that have hijacked Bescom, taking advantage of its incapacitated status? 
 
Muralidhar Rao

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