Ajit Pawar: Will not disconnect power supply over bills for now
Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar on Tuesday declared there will be no disconnection of electricity supply for farmer and local residents who failed to pay their bills until the issue of non-payment of the outstanding bills was debated in the state Assembly.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which created a din in both the houses of state legislature over the issue, demanded an urgent debate on the matter, saying they were unhappy with the action by state-owned power companies. They threated to intensify the agitation if the government did not announce stopping the disconnection of power supply.
“No power connections of agricultural pumps and domestic consumers will be disconnected until the issue of non-payment of outstanding bills is debated in the state assembly. The matter will be discussed in the lower House in a day or two,” Pawar said in the Assembly.
The issue also led to adjournment of proceedings in the Council as the Opposition was not satisfied with the response from the treasury benches. After a brief adjournment, Pawar came to the Council and said, “The government is ready to discuss the pending electricity bill in the legislature. The power supply for agricultural pumps and consumers in the state will not be cut until the members of both the parties are satisfied after the discussion. A special meeting will be held to discuss the power arrears in the state.”
Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said people are infuriated with the move as they were already facing an economic crisis and disconnection is nothing less than double whammy for them. “Lakhs of people have received disconnection notices by the power companies for non-payment of electricity dues. The disconnection drive is going on parallely. Farmers were badly affected due to coronavirus pandemic, lockdown and floods. There are consumers who have received inflated power bills up to ₹80 crore. The state energy minister (Nitin Raut) had declared a concession in power bills, instead of which the peopel have been gifted with the tariff hike,” Fadnavis said.
“Shopkeepers could not open their shops owing to lockdown and now if you are asking them to pay the bills immediately, how are they going to manage? People are really annoyed with the move. The state government must stop the disconnection drive immediately,” he demanded.
In the Upper House, leader of opposition Pravin Darekar said the power connections are cut to “forcibly” recover money from farmers and middle-class households. He demanded, “The government is not in a profit-making business, if they are in a loss, they should secure loans but forgo the pending bills of the people and stop disconnection immediately.”