A viral message, showing that mosques and churches in Karnataka pay a lower power tariff than temples and the common citizenry in the state do, is false. The claim shows highly simplistic tariffs - ₹7.85 per unit of electricity for citizens and temples and only ₹1.85 per unit for mosques and churches.
This is claim is unsupported with publicly available tariff data available with the Bangalore Electricity Supply Commission (BESCOM) through the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC). Several other Karnataka-based discoms too have their tariffs made public.
BOOM found that for the purposes of electricity tariffs, places of worship have been grouped into one category and are offered a cheaper tariff rate. However, if such institutions have separate spaces such as halls meant for marriages, restaurants or other commercial activities, outside of being used for core activities of worship or religion; such spaces would need to pay a steeper electricity tariff levied on commercial activities.
While the tariffs levied across the discoms vary, there is no indication that places of worship of one religion are paying higher tariffs than those of another.
The message refers to the new Congress-led government in Karnataka, which promised several freebies while on the campaign trail in areas such as transportation and power.
BOOM got this message on its helpline.
It is also on social media.
There are two kinds of tariffs outlined by the discoms: a high-tension and low tension based on the voltage of electricity transmission, the tariff orders of these discoms available with the Government of Karnataka show.
These two tariff categories have several subcategories depending on who is the end consumer. This means consumers needing philanthropic or humanitarian consideration like charitable institutions, schools, hospital etc. pay a lower tariff when compared to what is levied on commercial customers.
Further, there are several discoms in Karnataka, like BESCOM, Mangalore Electricity Supply Commission (MESCOM), Hubli Electricity Supply Commission, (HESCOM), Gulbarga Electricity Supply Commission (GESCOM), and the Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation (CESC).
While the tariffs themselves may vary across these discoms, the tariff categories and subcategories are largely similar across these discoms.
Low tension supply
Religious institutions fall under a subcategory called LT-2(a) tariffs.
This is the tariff offered to houses where a section of the house is used for small time businesses such as handlooms, consultancy, tailoring, home/stay or paying guests. It is also applicable to institutions such as hospitals, dispensaries, fire stations, health centres run by the union or state government or local bodies, AIDS centres and drug rehabilitation centres.
"It is also applicable to the installations of Temples, Mosques,Churches, Gurudwaras, Ashrams, Mutts and religious/Charitable institutions", BESCOM's tariff order states.
BESCOM's tariff orders can be found below. The tariffs are ₹110 for up to 50 KW and ₹210 for every additional KW. The energy tariffs per KWh (kilo-watt per hour) are ₹4.75 up to 100 units and ₹7 for all units if the consumption exceeds 100 units of usage.
Further, a note in the tariff structure states that religious institutions can only avail of this tariff for religious purposes. A separate tariff (LT-3) would apply to them if they are using the power for commercial purposes.
This tariff can be seen below.
This can be seen with BESCOM here.
Similar notes, on religious institutions being clubbed together under the LT-2(a) tariff but being charged the LT-3 tariff or commercial purposes, can be found with other discoms too through their latest tariff orders.
High tension supply
Religious institutions fall under a subcategory called HT-4 tariffs.
This is the tariff offered to houses and apartments that are directly tapping high-power transmission lines or being supplied independently. It can also be used to supply electricity to theatres, shopping facilities, clubs, hospitals, guest houses, yard/street lighting and canteens located within colonies.
Again, all religious institutions are grouped into one regardless of religion. This can be seen below and is from BESCOM's tariff order. The fixed charges are ₹300 KVA per month and ₹7.25 per KWh for the entire consumption.
Similar to the low-tension supply tariff, the high-tension supply carries the following note, "Temples, Church’s, Mosques, Gurudwaras, Ashrams, Mutts and Religious / Charitable Institution availing the power supply for religious activities under HT supply, shall be categorized and billed under HT-4 Tariff schedule. If these institutions use the power for Kalyana Mantapas / Marriage hall, Restaurant or for any other commercial activity, not related to religious activities, such energy consumption shall be billed under HT-2(b) tariff schedule (only energy charges) duly deducting such consumption recorded in the main HT meter. However, no reduction in the demand charges towards the recorded demand in the main HT meter shall be allowed. In all such cases, it shall be ensured that sub-meters are provided to record such commercial consumption separately".
Again, there is no difference in the places of worship on the basis of religion.
As mentioned, the HT-2(b) tariff can be found below. This is the tariff applicable to commercial undertakings,
This information is available with BESCOM here.
Similar notes, on religious institutions being clubbed together under the HT-4 tariff but being charged the HT-2(b) tariff for commercial purposes, can be found with other discoms too through their latest tariff orders.