There's a bomb in the mail: Your electricity bill.
Now there have been rumblings in Mumbai for some time. With Maharashtra facing acute power shortage the government has come up with an ingenious solution: charge users more.
In fact the idea is to 'penalise' those who use more. And especially business owners.
In April HT reported: All heavy power consumers of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport undertaking (BEST) will have to shell out more per unit. While households will have to pay 15 to 28 per cent more, commercial establishments like shopping malls will pay 84 per cent more.
'Heavy' use is defined as more than 500 units a month. Which in the context of a modern office is... laughable.
Well, so far all this was just the subject of academic debate. Then came our latest bill. The charges levied for May-June 2007 are exactly ... double. From a bi monthly bill of Rs 30,000-35,000, we're now saddled with a liability of Rs 68,000.
The first thing you do, of course, is check the meter. Well, that seems to be working fine. There is some increase in consumption (possibly due to summer).
So help us God. The BEST certainly isn't taking it kindly.
We are officially entering a new 'Dark Age'. "A/Cs will be put on between 11 and 11.25am every morning." Well, not that bad yet but we'll all have to be extra careful. And use fans more often.
While I wholly support electricity conservation, efficient use of resources etc the problem is there is only that much you can do in the short term. The industrial estate where my office is housed was built in the 70s. It has no clue what 'eco friendly' is about.
There are no windows offering natural light and/or ventilation. It's mobile-signal-blocking concrete all the way. Most of the new offices coming up in Mumbai are no better. They are in restructured mill compounds where you have to keep lights and a/cs on at all times.
Even if one could use natural light it would be impossible to work in the tropical climes of Mumbai without air conditioning... In fact windows have to be shut to keep out ambient noise and air pollution.
I am sure even a doubled electricity bill won't matter to very large companies whose stock price is doubling every six months. But for smaller outfits like JAM, it
could be a huge setback.
The blatant discrimination between the rate hike for households and businesses reflects the continuing socialist mindset of India. Businessmen are profit mongering capitalists who won't 'feel the pinch'.
Incidentally we in Mumbai are now paying the highest rates for electricity ... in the world.