Even as farmers are protesting against the policy of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) to disconnect power supply for nonpayment of monthly bills, state energy minister Ajit Pawar said on Monday that the company would not spare any defaulters.
MSEDCL also known as Mahavitaran is the country’s largest power supply company and is currently under pressure to recover dues totaling about Rs 10,000 crore. It supplies power to the city’s eastern suburbs of Kanjurmarg, Bhandup and Mulund, Thane, Navi Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra.
The company has cut supply to over two lakh consumers in the past two months and it has intensified the drive.
Among big defaulters are agriculture pump owners, who owe the company Rs 6,000 crore, which have been pending for several years. Local self-governments that use Mahaviratan power for public water supply and street lighting have not paid dues of Rs 1,800 crore.
In addition, Mahavitaran is fighting a case in the state regulator for recovering a due of Rs 2,200 crore from Mula Pravara society in Ahmednagar district, which buys power for supplying it to farmers and domestic users.
According to sources, public representatives have been requesting Pawar to take a holistic approach, especially towards farmers. The Opposition is also preparing itself to launch an attack on the energy department and Mahavitaran.
Janata Dal (Secular) on Monday called for a united agitation.
The party’s principal general secretary and chief of Maharashtra Power Consumers Association Pratap Hogade said he would bring together farmers and other consumers and protest against the decision.
But, Pawar said that Mahavitaran would not budge. “Electricity defaulters (in payments) will not be spared henceforth.
Influence from ministers or public representatives in favour of defaulters will not be entertained and I have made this clear to all,” said Pawar.
However, Pawar had good news for consumers who pay their bills regularly.
He said the government would buy additional power from outside to reduce load shedding during Diwali. The state cabinet is likely to sanction a grant for Mahavitaran on Tuesday.
“The festive season is on. We want to ensure that at least during Diwali, people do not have to face long hours of load shedding. If need be, we may even procure power from outside,” added Pawar.