CITY ART COLLECTOR CLAIMS CONTRACTOR DUPED HIM OVER SOLAR INSTALLATIONS
Corda moves consumer disputes forum, demanding his money back; contractor claims Corda misbehaved
What started as a personal effort to go green at his home turned into a nightmare for Dominic Corda, a wellknown art collector from the city.
Corda, recognised within Pune’s art circuit for hosting exhibitions and running a proprietary business of buying and selling paintings, had decided to install two solar panels at his bungalow in St Patrick’s Town, Hadapsar, last year. The 55-year-old was also aware that the state had announced a 30 per cent subsidy for rooftop solar projects, and contacted Harshit Meshramkar of Senergy Consultants in October 2017. He was given a quotation of Rs 2.60 lakh (Rs 2.22 lakh for the grid and Rs 38,000 for solar water systems) and claims he was promised it would be done in 45 days.
Nine months since, Corda only has an incomplete solar grid on his roof, despite paying Rs 2,37,000 so far. Now, he has moved the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum against Meshramkar, seeking compensation for agony caused by the delay, and a harsh punishment for the contractor.
For weeks after the deadline, Corda said he remained calm, hoping the job would get finished. But, things went south when he took a trip to government offices and found that the subsidy for solar projects had been stopped from March 31 this year, which means he had incurred a loss of Rs 91,000.
“I was assured work would be done in 1.5 months and all permissions from the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) and Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA) were taken, as also that formalities for the subsidy would be done by Meshramkar. But, after starting work, he disappeared and refused to answer calls. His behaviour changed drastically,” said Corda, adding that the contractor gave excuses like travelling and family emergencies.
The art collector alleged in his complaint that despite the delay, he paid Meshramkar Rs 10,000. He claims the latter called him in April 2018 and asked for an additional Rs 10,000 to get subsidy paperwork done. “I didn’t know the subsidy had stopped and paid him this in good faith,” said Corda.
In May, he realised he had been fooled when he approached MEDA and found no application in his name. Meshramkar’s firm was also not MEDA recognised to even apply on his behalf.
“I tried contacting him to demand a refund and explanation, but he threatened my family. He asked me to run for my life,” alleged Corda.
Now, the art collector has sought Rs 1.70 lakh, including the Rs 91,000 subsidy and the sum spent on electricity bills in the past few months. He has also sought a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for mental harassment and legal expenses. “Meshramkar should be punished severely so culprits of his ilk are afraid to indulge in such crimes,” Corda pleaded in his plaint before the forum.
Meshramkar agreed that he had struck a deal with Corda and quoted Rs 2.90 lakh minus GST, which was then reduced to Rs 2.60 lakh upon the art collector’s insistence. “Once we started work in October, Corda wanted a reduced sum. We did that and continued working, but he wanted changes in design and panels. We met that demand, too. When we asked for the remaining payment, Corda blocked my calls,” claimed Meshramkar, adding that since he knew Corda’s sons personally, he dint raise a complaint.
The contractor admitted he had taken money from Corda to speed up the MEDA registration. “When my engineers reached Corda’s house to begin pending work, he harassed them, so they refused to return there,” claimed Meshamkar. He added that despite Corda’s behaviour, he has been patiently waiting for the art collector to “calm down” before contacting him again. “I am willing to finish the pending work, provided Corda makes the remaining payment of Rs 40,000. Whatever the cost, I will put in money in from my pocket and clear this out,” he finished.