FHRAI writes to HM against A&N administration for high electricity charges

Requests intervention after receiving threats of disconnection for refusal to pay at higher rate

The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) has submitted a representation to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and requested his urgent intervention in implementing the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) judgement for the State of Goa and Union Territories (UT) with respect to charging of electricity tariff at industrial rates for hotels in the UT of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

According to FHRAI, despite JERC's decision in its order dated 02/12/2020 and the High Court of Calcutta's order dated 31/08/2021 directing the Andaman & Nicobar administration to charge industrial rates for electricity to the hospitality sector, the administration and the electricity department have continued to charge commercial rates to the hospitality units. Not only has the administration refused to carry out the orders, but its electricity department has sent notices to members of the Hoteliers Association of Andaman and Nicobar Islands (HAANI) requesting they pay higher commercial rates or face having their electricity disconnected.

“In May 2019, the Andaman and Nicobar Electricity Department began charging commercial rates on electricity purchased from the struggling hospitality sector. A few of our members challenged this decision in the JERC, and the JERC ruled in its order that the hospitality sector in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is, in fact, an industry that must be charged industrial rates. However, the Electricity Department ignored the order and continued to charge commercial rates to the hospitality units, in direct violation of the order. Later, the High Court of Calcutta ruled in favour of the Hoteliers Association of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, directing the Electricity Department to issue bills at industrial rates rather than commercial rates. In addition, the HC directed the Department to correct previous electricity bills and issue bills based on industrial rates retroactively beginning in December 2020. Nonetheless, the Administration has flagrantly violated both orders and continues to charge higher rates for electricity. We request that the Hon'ble Home Minister intervene and direct the Andaman and Nicobar Administration to charge industrial tariffs for the hotel industry in accordance with the directions of the Hon'ble JERC and the Hon'ble High Court of Calcutta, in order to save the already distressed hospitality industry,” said Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, Vice President, FHRAI.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on the islands' economy, and as a result, several hotels and resorts have closed. Many more are on the verge of being closed. The hospitality industry is the backbone of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, providing the majority of employment on the islands.

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