Some of the city’s richest localities owe the government crores of rupees in outstanding electricity bills.
A whopping Rs. 56.94 crore is due to the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport undertaking (BEST) from areas including Colaba, Malabar Hill, Worli and Shivaji Park, among others.
The profit-making supply division of BEST is currently facing an economic crisis. Many blame the company’s poor recovery mechanism for the problem. The city’s residents have owed BEST the amount since 2007. These pending power bills are, however, from ‘defective’ meters, where the bill amount has been contested by residents.
The highest unpaid bill comes from the D ward and stands at Rs. 12.29 crore. The D-ward houses Malabar Hill, one of the city’s most sought-after addresses that houses a bevy of upper class residents. And giving the D ward close competition is the pending bill from the A ward — that comprises Colaba, Mumbadevi and RC Church, which are also plush areas — at Rs. 11.29 crore.
“These pending bills show a complete lapse on the part of the administration. Considering the financial status of people residing in these areas, getting the bills paid should not be a difficult task. And if it’s a matter of defective meters, what action have the authorities taken?” said Ravi Raja Kondu, a BEST committee member.
The ward-wise list of pending bills was put forward in the BEST committee meeting held on Thursday. A proposal to increase BEST bus fares and power tariffs was approved there.
“The [power tariff] hike is not acceptable as the administration is not recovering its dues, and instead, burdening consumers with the responsibility to cover their losses,” added Raja.A BEST spokesperson requesting anonymity said, "These bills have been generated from meters that are supposedly defective, so they are cross-checked at various levels. This process takes time."