Mumbai: In a showdown with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Congress stepped in to intervene in the Mula Pravara Electricity Cooperative Society’s merger with the state power distribution company.
On Monday, a few hours before the merger could take place on February 1, Congress leaders took up the matter with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan.
The CM directed the authorities concerned to safeguard the interest of the society’s 1,600 employees, who would lose their jobs in the merger. The Congress, however, failed in stopping the merger because of legalities involved.
On January 27, the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission had cleared the society’s merger with MSEDC because the society’s distribution licence had expired on January 31.
Senior Congress leader Balasaheb Vikhe Patil and his state cabinet minister son Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil control Mula Pravara Electricity Cooperative Society, which has been supplying power to 183 villages in five tehsils of Ahmednagar district for the last 40 years.
The Vikhe Patils have accused NCP leader and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, who also heads the energy department, of political vendetta.
The regulator, however, kept mum on employee transfer though it guided on assets transfer. The company has told the regulator that it would not retain the society’s 1,600 employees because the area can be served by 160 people.
The company had also asked for scrapping of the society’s licence because it did not get dues of more than Rs 2,200 crore. Following the company’s petition, the power regulator held independent inquires and a public hearing. It selected the state company from among the several bidders as replacement of the society.
Ajit stood his ground on Monday and said the merger would happen “at any cost”.
He skipped the meeting with CM, who was petitioned by Radhakrishna and state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre.
Radhakrishna and Thakre asked Chavan to help the employees, who on Saturday had moved the Ahmednagar industrial court that asked MSEDC to decide the society’s employees’ fate by February 4.
They have asked for continuation of service or compensation of more than Rs 400 crore.
According to a senior MSEDC officer, Chavan suggested to form a panel to decide about the employees. “The merger will happen at midnight so that the people don’t face any power outage,” said the officer requesting anonymity.