In the spotlight: Jumeirah Islands where Nakheel has accused residents of power theft Image Credit: FRANCOIS NEL/XPRESS

Dubai: Nakheel has accused Jumeirah Islands (JI) residents of tampering with their district cooling meters.

The developer said the power theft amounted to defrauding the Dubai government of its rightful revenues and could invite a penalty of Dh20,000. In a strongly worded notice sent to residents last week, Nakheel said their staff is authorised to conduct checks on the metres and attempts to obstruct them may result in police intervention.

The July 24 notice reads: “It has come to our attention that some residents in the Jumeirah Islands have been tampering with the BTU (British thermal units) meters which measure the consumption of cooling energy supplied to their villas for air conditioning purposes. We assume the objective of this tampering is to prevent the meter from registering the full amount of cooling consumed in a billing period in an attempt to reduce the amount payable for the cooling service. Nakheel, being a Dubai government owned entity regards such actions as a very serious offence which attempts to defraud the government of its rightful revenues.”

“If our security staff or personnel from our authorised agents have reason to believe the BTU meter for your property, the isolation valves or any associated temperature or flow measuring devices have been modified, disconnected or in any way tampered with, we will instruct our agents to apply a penalty charge of Dh20,000 to your cooling account. In addition, Nakheel will have the right to charge your cooling account with an estimate of the amount of cooling energy which would have been consumed in the period by a similar sized property,” the letter read.

The move has got a sharp response from the community.

“Is that legal? Can Nakheel conduct checks and impose fines?” asked a resident. “Having said this, tampering the meter is a very serious offence,” he said.

Another resident said the notice could be counterproductive. “It could give ideas to people now that they know the meters can be tampered with. I hope the stiff penalty serves as a deterrent.”

High district cooling charges in JI have always been a bone of contention between residents and Nakheel. In February last year, a steep hike in chiller charges forced some residents to look for alternative ways to cool their homes.

JI consists of 46 clusters with 16 villas in each cluster.