While the debt-ridden Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) continues to burden its 10 lakh power consumers to recover losses from its transport arm, it has failed to recover power bills amounting to Rs 53 crore from several government and private bodies.
Based on information procured from the BEST, Ravi Raja, a Congress committee member, revealed 150 government institutions and hospitals and around 100 private bodies have lapsed on their bill payment. Government offices, including some of deputy secretary PWD in Mantralaya and some BMC ward offices, owe the BEST Rs 34.90 crore, while private entities have bills worth Rs 18.52 crore pending.
The commissioner of police has over six different connections with total pendency amount crossing Rs 1 crore. Some departments have not paid power bills for more than 10 years.
Criticising the BEST for not being firm with the defaulters, Ravi Raja said, “While the BEST continues to burden its commuters to offset losses, the undertaking not been able to recover power bills worth crores from several government and private bodies. This amount should be recovered on priority basis and if the institutions fail to pay, strict action should be taken against them.”
According to the BEST, 30% of these premises were found locked, closed or vacant and around 17% were unauthorised extensions, when the authorities approached the defaulters. Four 4% of the premises have been demolished and another 4% were receiving supply using a new meter.
Alka Sasane, BMC assistant commissioner of F-north ward which owes the BEST Rs 20 lakh, said, “This is the bill amount of Sion cemetery. The BEST did not send us light bills up to 2012 and then they have issued the accumulated bill. This bill is supposed to be cleared by the mechanical and electrical department (central agency).”
Sanjay Barkund, deputy commissioner of police, operations said, “The bill payments of other departments are made through book adjustments. If at all there is any surplus payment that we need to make to other departments, it is made after taking required permissions which takes time. Government agencies do not have any pending bills.”