In the past few days, several Twitter users have posted an illustration that claims that electricity charges for temples are higher than what mosques and churches have to pay in Tamil Nadu. As per the image, temples have to pay Rs 8 per unit while mosques and churches pay Rs 2.85 per unit.
Twitter user @Dix5a posted the viral image and tagged Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy in her tweet. Her tweet was retweeted over 1,400 times (archive link).
Dushyant Singh Jadaun, who claims to be a devotee of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his Twitter bio, posted the viral image and wrote, “This is called sickularism Charge temples for everything high be it electricity ,water etc ,give rebates to other communities . And eye on the temples treasury.” This post has been retweeted over 150 times (archive link).
Several Twitter users have shared this image along with the identical text as seen in Jadaun’s tweet. These tweets have been shared with Hindi hashtag #मंदिर_धन_भक्तों_का — which translates to #TempleWealthBelongsToDevotees
Alt News has received several requests to fact-check this on WhatsApp (+917600011160) and on our official Android application.
Electricity charges are the same for all religious places
In order to verify the tariff imposed by the Tamil Nadu government, Alt News visited the website of Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO). The latest tariff schedule is found under Billing Services > Schedule of Tariff > Abstract of tariff schedule. These rates were last revised in 2017.
As per the tariff schedule, there are two categories of the voltage of electricity supply: high tension (voltage of 11 kilo-volts or above and connected load over 112 kW) and low tension (voltage up to 415 volts and connected load up to 112 kW). Unlike in high tension supply, the tariff is calculated on a bi-monthly basis for low tension supply. The cost for all places of worship are listed under three categories in the above-mentioned tariff schedule —
- II-A under high tension supply: The tariff for places of public worship is Rs 6.35/unit. In addition, a fixed monthly cost which is calculated as Rs 350/kilo-volt-ampere(kVA) irrespective of actual consumption.
- II-C under low tension supply: Places of public worship that consume 0-120 units are charged at Rs 2.85/unit; those places of public worship that consume over 120 units have to pay Rs 5.75/unit. In addition, a fixed cost of Rs 120/kW is charged every two months irrespective of actual consumption.
- V under low tension supply: Meanwhile, places of worship where public entry isn’t permitted or if they are built on an unauthorised land without the consent of revenue authority, they are charged under the commercial category. They have to pay Rs 5/unit if their consumption is below 100 units and Rs 8.05/unit if their consumption is above 100 units. In addition, a fixed cost of Rs 140/kW is charged every two months irrespective of actual consumption.
Alt News spoke with a senior officer at TANGEDCO who said, “The last tariff order in Tamil Nadu fixed by the State Regulatory Commission was in 2017. There has been no change in the tariff structure since then. Our engineer visits the site to verify if the public is allowed to worship. If so then he can sanction concessional tariff. No certificate from HR&CE or Wakf etc is required. So there is no discrimination on grounds of religion.”
A similar claim was made last year. It was debunked by the Tamil fact-checking website You Turn.
Thus the social media claim is false and misleading. All religious places are charged equally for electricity by the Tamil Nadu government. Just like the hashtag #मंदिर_धन_भक्तों_का, in the first week of May, Twitter hashtag #LootTemplesGiftMinorities was racked up to spread false and communal misinformation that Tamil Nadu government directed temples to pay Rs 10 crores to fund 5,450 tonnes of free rice for mosques during Ramzan — read Alt News fact-check report for more details.
Viral claim shared without the Tamil Nadu angle
The false claim has led several users to question if temple across India are charged higher for electricity consumption than mosques and churches. Twitter user @mayamadhava posted an identical claim without mentioning the Tamil Nadu and asked, “Can somebody check whether this is true?” His tweet was retweeted over 750 times (archive link).