Stating that there is potential to slash power bills in the state by 50% just as its erstwhile government did in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party on Tuesday accused the state power firm and energy minister Ajit Pawar of wasting more than wasted over Rs. 22,000 crore in the last three years, and helping a nexus of politicians, bureaucrats and corporate houses burden the common man with inflated bills.
In a media conference, AAP activist Satish Jain alleged the scam perpetrated by Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (Mahagenco) was why people were paying more for power.
“The electricity tariffs [in Maharashtra] are the highest in the country and the entire brunt is borne by consumers,” he said.
“Mahegenco deliberately does not lift its entire quota from Coal India Limited and prefers to buy costly imported coal, incurring an additional cost of Rs. 5,700 crore,” said Jain.
On capital expenditure, he said, “Despite spending Rs. 10,000 crore in the last five years as capital expenditure cost, power generation has come down instead of going up.” The party also accused RInfra of purchasing power at exorbitant rates from Rs. 6 to Rs. 12 per unit and passing on the burden to consumers.
AAP spokesperson Priti Sharma Menon accused the NCP leader of allowing the loot. “There is corruption at every level and the entire scam is facilitated by [Ajit] Pawar,” she said. Mahagengo has refuted the allegations as misleading and without basis.
“In the last few years, there has been shortage of coal due to high demand across the country and Mahagenco had to import it. However, this was done to safeguard consumer interests. We issued global tenders and the entire process was transparent,” the state owned company stated in a press release. It also pointed out that its expenditure was audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG). NCP, too, termed the allegation against Pawar a pack of lies.
“The AAP wants to gain cheap publicity by levelling such unsubstantiated allegations,” said Nawab Malik, NCP’s national spokesperson. RInfra said the allegations were politically motivated.
“The average cost of power purchases for RInfra is Rs. 4.16 per unit, the lowest in Mumbai, and not over Rs. 6 per unit as alleged by AAP. RInfra does not buy any shortterm power at Rs. 12 per unit,as falsely alleged by AAP,” the company said.
The AAP has demanded that the state should audit the asset and distribution costs in the power sector, and Mahagenco should be forced to lift the entire coal allocation, with import being curtailed.
It has also sought that the capital expenditure of Rs1 lakh crore planned by Mahagenco over the next eight years be disallowed. Among its other demands are punishing the erring Mahagenco officials, removal of regulatory assets charge and scrapping of electricity tax.