They barged into the Electric House, Colaba around 11 am on Saturday. About 200 alleged Shiv Sainiks. And they damaged two Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses and lit a bonfire of power bills.
The mob of Sainiks was protesting against the BEST’s recent decision to hike electricity bills by 45 per cent.
The saffron protest went on at two other places around the same time — a demonstartion was staged near the BEST’s Wadala office. Party workers also protested outside state Power Minister Sunil Tatkare’s Malabar Hill residence.
In all, 80 Sainiks were arrested at the three protest venues. Among those held was Sena member of Legislative Assembly Arvind Nerkar, who was a former chairman of the BEST committee.
The Sena’s protest was against the power tariff hike, despite the Sena being the ruling party in the civic committee that controls the BEST.
The BEST administration plans to take legal action against the protesters.
“We will file cases against those involved in damaging buses,” said BEST General Manager Uttam Khobragade. “The BEST has been demanding Rs 1,000 crore as aid from its parent body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, to tide over losses of Rs 250 crore. If we reduce tariff, we cannot purchase electricity any more.”
BEST committee chairman Dilip Patel, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader, justified the agitation.
“The power minister did not want to meet us. What then can you expect people to do?” Patel said.
“We agitated against the administration, not against elected representatives. The state government should announce aid to the BEST to relieve the common man,” said Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut.
On compensating for the damaged buses, Raut said: “The head of the administration [Khobragade] seems to be there only to recover compensation as a state representative.”
On June 8, the Sena had agitated against a power tariff hike by Reliance, which was subsequently stayed by the state government.