CHENNAI: Coming to the rescue of the spinning and weaving mills in the Western districts, which have suffered serious economic blows due to subsequent lockdowns, the Madras High Court has set aside the orders of the Tangedco demanding maximum charges and compensation from high tension consumers. The court held that the demand was illegal, unsustainable, and a violation of statutory regulations.
A petition filed by the South India Spinners Association, and 19 others, prayed for a court direction to Tangedco to withdraw the maximum Demand Charges of 90 per cent for March and April 2020 for its members and assess the same at 20 per cent or to the extent of recorded demand and also to raise the monthly bill for May by calculating the charges at the same rate and to refund the extra amount collected or adjust the same in future bill till May 17 or till the extended period of lockdown and not to levy power factor penalty during the lockdown period.
The judge observed that the HT consumers were actually caught between the devil and deep sea. On the one hand the government asked them to shut down their establishment and on the other hand Tangedco was levying the Maximum Demand from the consumers. If this is allowed to be continued, it will virtually lead to permanent shutting down of the industries. The financial crunch that is being faced by almost all industries due to the lockdown because of Corona pandemic and the huge challenge they are going to face post the pandemic is now made worse by Tangedco by levying these charges.
The judge directed Tangedco to issue a revised bill to the petitioners by applying Regulation 6(b) of the Supply Code for the entire period when the establishment was under shut down. If it has already recovered the entire dues from any of the petitioners, the bill shall be reworked in accordance with the direction given in Clause (a) and the excess amount shall be adjusted.
These directions will apply only for the period during which the establishment was under total lockdown due to the orders issued by the government, the judge said and made it clear that it pertains only to the Minimum Charges payable under Regulation 6(b) of the Supply Code and there is no exemption insofar as the charges payable for the actual consumption of electricity (Energy Charges).