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Power firm demands removal of activists

mumbai Updated: Aug 17, 2010 00:35 IST
Dharmendra Jore
Dharmendra Jore
Hindustan Times
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The tussle between the state power distribution company, Mahavitaran, and consumer representatives has intensified with the utility demanding that the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) “remove” the representatives for furnishing misleading information.

Mahavitaran managing director Ajoy Mehta made this demand before the commission at a public hearing on Monday.

The hearing was held over allegations that Mahavitaran violated MERC directives by not reducing power cuts in urban and rural areas despite more availability of power from June.

Consumer bodies, which are approved by the commission, had presented their case in the last hearing and Mehta had demanded the right to reply.

On Monday, Mehta accused the consumer activists of furnishing incorrect information to the commission. “Applicants and consumer representatives have projected only selective information with an intention of misleading the commission resulting in frivolous litigation, hence penalty should be imposed on them,” Mehta urged the MERC, which is headed by former bureaucrat V.P. Raja.

Justifying the unscheduled cuts, Mehta said the company did not have enough power available and it was necessary to save the grid from collapsing. Consumer activists, who were not allowed to clarify on Monday, told Hindustan Times that Mehta’s demand was unjustified.

“There are no provisions in the law that say only qualified people could represent consumer interests. Barring a few all are highly qualified and know the power sector as much as experts do,” said Pratap Hogade, one of the litigants.

Hogade said he had no qualms in apologising to the commission on Monday because some information that he had furnished turned out to be untrue. “But then my information was based on the inputs officially provided by the Mahavitaran officers,” he added. Shantanu Dixit, who represents Prayas Energy Group from Pune, said Mehta’s demand vindicated the activists’ right to ensure consumer rights.

MERC is expected to deliver its directive on the case soon.