The Mumbai police through its various departments, police stations and beat chowkies owes a whopping Rs3.55crore to the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) towards electricity charges. The dues, which run into lakhs for some departments, have not been cleared since 2009. This information was revealed in a reply to an RTI application filed by social activist Chetan Kothari.
The list of defaulters starts with the commissioner of police, whose arrears amount to Rs 5.09 lakh. The senior inspector of police zone II (covering Malbar Hill, DB Marg, Pydhonie, VP Road, Gamdevi, LT Marg) is the biggest defaulter with Rs31lakh as dues. The dues owed by the superintendent of Arthur Road jail are Rs33.24 lakh.
Usually, the BEST disconnects power supply to defaulters after serving notice that gives them 15 days to clear the dues. The notice is served under Electricity Act 2003 and is applicable to all. “These are double standards on part of the BEST. They disconnect power supply to homes of consumers when they default on a single payment and recover even small dues. Here, they are turning eye to the electricity bills run up the police which run into crores,” Kothari said.
NA Walawalkar, BEST public relations officer said, “The police department is a state government body and we are supposed to pay certain taxes or charges like passenger tax, road tax, toll and nutrition charges to the state government. These charges are adjusted against state government's unpaid electricity bill.”
Joint commissioner of police (administration) SP Yadav said, “Electricity bills are paid regionally by the respective additional commissioners of police. We are not short on funds. The concerned authorities will verify the arrears and do the needful.”