RTI reveals that several state ministers have mounting dues at a time of drought and load shedding
Crunch time is for the common man, silly. Instead of tightening their belts at a time of drought across the state and power shortage in rural Maharashtra, state ministers have no qualms about running up high water and electricity bills.
Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse owes the BMC’s water department R 2 lakh ( right) Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has an outstanding electricity bill of over Rs 33 lakh
A query under the RTI Act has revealed that at the top of the list is the big man himself, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. He used 10,969 kilolitres of water at his bungalow, Varsha, running up a bill of Rs 1,86,126 in 2015-16. He has a pending water bill of Rs 244778 for this bungalow. The water bill for his other bungalow, Torna, is Rs 32,239. Fadnavis has an outstanding electricity bill of over Rs 33 lakh for 15-16 for Varsha and Rs 5 lakh for Torna.
Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse owes the BMC’s water department Rs 2 lakh for usage at his plush Ramtek bungalow. Khadse has to also pay BEST Undertaking R16 lakh for using 1,03,272 units of energy.
Finance Minister Sudhir Mungatiwar owes the water department Rs 55,543 and Rs 5 lakh to the electricity department for the same period. Speaker Haribhau Bagade, who resides in Agradoot, has to pay Rs 7,760 to the water department. Education Minister Vinod Tawde has used around 5,072 kilolitres of water and owes Rs 1,29,225 to the department.
It’s not the just BJP ministers, but also Shiv Sena netas who seem to be unable to curtail wasteful usage. Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam owes BEST Rs 6,81,114 for power usage and Rs 7,184 to the BMC.
“If you look at the bills of the ministers, you will realise that water conservation measures in the time of drought make only for good speeches. They have used electricity and water in abundance,” said Chetan Kothari, an activist who filed the application under the RTI Act.
Kothari questioned the authorities’ duplicity over non-payment of dues.
“Nobody will cut their (the ministers’) supply. But if you and I were to default on our payments, the wireman would be at our doorsteps in two months.”
Kothari alleges that the ministers have forgotten their own message of going thrifty. “There seems to be no conservation of the scarce resources on the part of the ministers’ or their private staff members.”