An image has gone viral across WhatsApp, claiming that the charges for electricity in Tamil Nadu differ across different places of worship. The viral photo is an illustration that shows visual representations of a mosque, church and a temple.
The image has gone viral in the context of misinformation that creates prejudices regarding Islam. In the case of recent instances, such as the violence in Jahangirpuri, there has been a lot of misinformation spreading across social media, aiming to trigger communal disharmony.
The image has gone viral across WhatsApp. The Logical Indian received several messages on our WhatsApp fact check no. +91-6364000343 requesting to fact check the claim.
The illustration has the caption "Electricity charges in Tamil Nadu", and it claims that Hindu temples must pay Rs 8 per unit for electricity charges. Meanwhile, churches and mosques are required only to pay Rs 2.85 per unit.
Screengrabs of requests received on the TLI WhatsApp fact check number
The caption below the post claims that the unfair treatment given to temples in terms of dues for electricity reflects the worsening state of secularism in India. The image alleges a bias in the Tamil Nadu government in favour of religions other than Hinduism.
The Logical Indian Fact Check team verified the viral claim and found it to be false. There is no difference in electricity per unit charges in Tamil Nadu based on religion.
We conducted a keyword search on Twitter, taking the relevant keywords from the post. We found the same claim viral across social media in March 2020.
This indicated that the viral post does not describe a recent development and has been circulating across social media for at least two years.
We conducted a keyword search for the tariff charges for electricity in Tamil Nadu. We came across a statement of tariff charges on the website of Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited.
We found that the tariff rates were last revised on 11 August 2017. The tariff statement classifies the two types of electric supply: high tension voltage and low-tension voltage.
Tariffs for places of worship in Tamil Nadu are divided accordingly. The tariff for a place of worship with a high tension supply is Rs 6.35 per unit, and the minimum monthly cost for electricity monthly is Rs 350 per kilo-volt-Ampere.
Meanwhile, the tariff for a place of public worship with low-tension supply with the consumption of 0-120 units is charged Rs 2.85 per unit. The religious sites with consumption above 120 units must pay Rs 5.75 per unit.
As can be seen from the figures, there is no exception for places of worship for different religions. The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited has no mention of different rates for different religions in its detailed statement for tariffs.
In a separate incident, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Ombudsman stated that government officials cannot alter the electricity tariff for a place of worship based on caste or societal differences. As per the Hindu report dated 01 April 2021, a temple representative had sought a change for tariff for a Hindu temple, but the Tamil Nadu electricity authority rejected his appeal.
As per the report, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution has not made any special concessions for Hindu temples or other places of worship depending on the type of land they are built on or societal differences.
The viral post claims that Hindu temples must pay Rs 8 per unit for electricity charges. Meanwhile, churches and mosques are required to pay only Rs 2.85 per unit.
In actuality, all places of worship are charged an equal amount as per the figures on the official website of The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited. No place of worship is charged above Rs 6.35 per unit, contrary to what the viral post claims.
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