Power supply to city’s eastern suburbs like Kanjurmarg, Bhandup, Mulund and satellite cities Thane and Navi Mumbai may face interruption as the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MSEDC), which is facing a financial crisis, has not been able to pay monthly bills to power generation companies.
MSEDC, also known as Mahavitaran, has not yet recovered cumulative dues of Rs 10,000 crore from several consumers, primarily because of political interference. Agriculture sector has not paid Rs 6,900 crore while local-self governments have run up a bill of Rs 1,400 crore.
In addition, Mahavitaran needs to recover Rs 2,200 crore from Mula Pravara Society, which distributes state utility’s supply to five tehsils in Ahmednagar district.
Despite its ongoing recovery drive, Mahavitaran is finding it difficult to pay a monthly bill of Rs 850 crore to state power generation company Mahagenco, which supplies more than 75% of Mahavitaran’s daily requirement. Rest of the supply comes from Ratnagiri Gas and Power Company (RGPPL) and the Centre pool.
Energy minister Ajit Pawar has directed Mahavitaran to get tough with defaulters. Unmindful of protest, Pawar has earlier told all political parties that he would not buckle down under any pressure to offer any unresonable relief. Pawar was unavailable for comment on Monday. Mahavitaran spokesperson did not deny the situation, however, but he refused to further comment on it.
However, Mahavitaran officials said that the tough stand by Pawar was yielding some good results. “Several local self governments have started paying up dues after we cut their supply. Farmers, albeit very few, have responded to our recovery drive,” said an official.
According to a source in the company, since Mahavitaran has been delaying payment to Mahagenco, the generation company too is facing a crisis of sorts.
“The electricity regulator did not give us a significant tariff hike though we had asked for Rs 4,000 crore. It gave us a mere Rs 400 crore, which will be insufficient during the financial crisis,” said the source. “Mahagenco needs to pay up in advance for coal and its transportation. When Mahagenco delays payment, coal doesn’t arrive on time and subsequently it affects generation in the state.”
Currently, Mahavitaran faces a shortfall of more than 3,000 mega watts daily and hence it enforces outages in the range of three to 12 hours. Mumbai’s eastern suburbs now have a zero-power cut system for which consumers pay more for uninterrupted supply. Company officials fear that the bad situation, if not rectified, may result in unscheduled power cuts in these areas.