Mumbai: Cops promise to pay Mankhurd residents for power theft
mid-day impact >> Day after this paper's report, power restored to project-affected residents as police promise to pay up for stolen electricity
The residents of Hiranandani Akruti building will never again have to pay the price for the Mankhurd police's crime of stealing electricity. Hours after mid-day's report on their plight, the residents' power connection was restored and the police finally agreed to pay the Rs 2.5-lakh electric bill they had racked up while using the building's common electric meter. Yesterday, for the first time in 14 months, the residents were able to use the building lift and enjoy running water in their homes.
A worker re-installs a meter in the building. Pics/Rajesh Gupta
Taking note of this paper's report on the issue, the authorities jumped into action to restore the building's electricity connection. A high-level meeting was arranged between the MMRDA - which had developed the building - and Mumbai Police, who agreed to pay the outstanding bill of Rs 2.5 lakh (bill period from July 2015 to August 2016). After getting an assurance of payment from residents and officials, within hours, Reliance Energy sent a team to restore power supply to the building.
Residents of Hiranandani Akruti finally have light in their hallways after more than a year of suffering without electricity in the building's common areas
The 200-odd inhabitants moved to this Mankhurd building in April 2016, after they were displaced from their homes in the Kurla-Wadala stretch. mid-day's front-page report on Friday had highlighted how just five months later, the society was shocked to be slapped with a power bill of R2.5 lakh. They soon figured out that the electricity had been consumed by the Mankhurd police station, which was located on the first three floors of the building. Even after this was discovered, and despite the MMRDA asking them to pay the dues, the cops refused to take responsibility.
However, senior police officers took cognisance of the new report and sought an explanation from the Mankhurd police. The cops said that although the police station has its own meter, some of the rooms and passages get power from the building's connection.
The police then contacted Reliance Energy, requesting them to fix the problem. Officers also assured that they will resolve the matter by holding a joint meeting with residents and MMRDA officials in the coming week.
"We had been struggling for electricity for the last 14 months, and just hours after mid-day's report, our power was restored," said Santosh Thite, secretary of Shree Ganesh Housing Society, which manages the building's affairs.
He added, "We had written to MMRDA to resolve the matter, but there was no success. Advocate Vijay Raorane intervened on our behalf and told the authorities that we would go on a dharna. But it was after the news report that our voice was heard."
The lawyer representing the society in the matter, Advocate Vijay Raorane, said, "In October, my friend invited me here for Diwali pooja. I was surprised when my friend said that we would have to climb up seven floors as there was no power supply to the lift. I decided to pursue the matter with the MMRDA and the Mankhurd Police, but we did not get a proper response from them. The residents and I are thankful to mid-day for resolving the problem."