In the name of Lord Ganesh, Mumbai mandals are stealing electricity: BEST

In the last five years, BEST has detected 167 cases of power theft and recovered an amount of Rs 5.34 lakh from errant mandals

Mumbai's favourite festival — Ganesh Chaturthi — is celebrated in the city with much fanfare. But in the name of Ganesh, a few Ganpati mandals have been involved in power thefts.

As per the figures compiled by the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST), the cases of power thefts or mandals getting electricity illegally to their pandals are on a rise. BEST said that over the last five years (2010-14), there have been 167 cases detected by the vigilance department and they have recovered R5.34 lakh as claims for this.

Sources said that with the Bombay High Court making it stricter for pandals to be set up, and getting relevant nods from the civic body being made mandatory, these cases of misuse might come down this year.

“This year too we have already deployed our teams who will be monitoring the locations where these issues are often more,” said R Singh, chief vigilance officer, BEST. In 2010, there were 40 cases detected by BEST, which dropped drastically to 18 the next year, but then onwards it has seen a rise to 45 cases in 2014.

Power theft
Explaining the modus operandi, BEST officials said that normally, these mandals need to take a separate connection and install temporary meters for the festival. This would then help in channelling the power supply and keeping a tab on the electricity load as well.

However, the mandals don’t take so much effort and simply take electricity from the existing meter from the meter box of a local building or at times even street-side meter boxes that are near slums. Thus, the power supply attached to a particular meter increases.

In such cases, the electricity charged is on residential rates, which are lesser than the commercial rates. Officials said that this year, there have been stringent checks before giving permissions for accepting requisitions for additional electricity supply from these mandals.

Of the 1,235 requisitions received by BEST, it sanctioned only 1,170 of them and 741 temporary meters have been fitted until September 15. Surprisingly this year, the permissions for installing temporary meters have come down drastically. Until September 15, the Undertaking allowed 741 meters.

Over the years between 2010-14, the number of temporary meters installed has seen an upward trend. In 2010, the number of temporary meters installed was 1,087, which rose to 1,332 in year 2014. The electricity load on these temporary meters via which power is given to Ganesh mandals has also increased from 11,497 kilowatts (Kw) in 2010 to 15,435 Kw in 2014.

“This year, as the number of temporary meters installed has come down substantially, the additional load plus the amount collected from them too would come down,” said a BEST official. During the past five years, the Undertaking collected a huge sum of R3.70 crore as earnings, billed from Ganesh mandals.

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