State owes BEST Rs 70 lakh for power bills of just 10 bungalows occupied by top leaders, including CM, finance minister, revenue minister and the Assembly speaker, according to an RTI reply
If you don’t pay your electricity bill, company officials will be at your doorstep in a heartbeat to cut the connection to your house even if the amount owed is just a few hundred rupees. In bungalows of the state’s politicians, however, electricity bills running into lakhs have been pending for at least a year, with not a squeak from the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking.
The monthly average bill at the CM’s bungalow is about Rs 1 lakh. File pic
As per a reply to a recent Right to Information (RTI) application filed by activist Chetan Kothari, the state government owes BEST around Rs 13.90 lakh, as of March this year, for the pending electricity bills of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ 12,000-sq ft government bungalow, Varsha, in Malabar Hill.
Ramtek bungalow is occupied by Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse and the average monthly bill is Rs 80,000-Rs 1 lakh
The bungalow’s monthly average bill is about Rs 1 lakh and the amount owed in March last year, when Prithviraj Chavan was occupying the bungalow as CM, was Rs 2.64 lakh. The new government was elected in October last year. The amount owed for just 10 ministers’ bungalows, including the CM’s, is nearly Rs 70 lakh.
“While a common man’s electricity connection is immediately disconnected if the bill is not paid, and farmers have to face load shedding for hours at a stretch, no rules seem to apply to politicians, who rake up bills adding up to such huge amounts,” said Kothari.
The amount owed for the plush 8,857-sq ft Ramtek bungalow was Rs 2.05 lakh in March 2014, when Chhagan Bhujbal was occupying it, and the amount had swelled to Rs 11.47 lakh as of March this year. The bungalow is occupied by Eknath Khadse, who is the revenue minister and the average monthly bill is Rs 80,000-Rs 1 lakh.
For Chitrakoot, the bungalow occupied by the late R R Patil when he was home minister and now home to Sudhir Mungantiwar, the state finance minister, the state government owes BEST Rs 2.76 lakh as of March this year. The average bill for the bungalow is between R20,000 and Rs 40,000 and the bill owed in March last year was Rs 84,880.
The amount owed for Ajit Pawar’s former bungalow, Devgiri, which all the BJP ministers were reportedly fighting for, was Rs 1.51 lakh in March last year and now stands at Rs 5.52 lakh.
“It is evident that while our representatives ask us to follow rules, they will not do so themselves, and the BEST also seems powerless,” said Kothari. When mid-day contacted BEST officials for comment, they refused to speak, saying it was a ‘high-level matter’.
Amounts pending for bungalows
Rs 13,90,880 > Varsha
The official residence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis
Rs 11,47,010 > Ramtek
Currently occupied by Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse
Rs 11,00,000 > Satpuda
Residence of Social Justice Minister Rajkumar Badole
Rs 5,52,060 > Devgiri
Vinod Tawde, minister for education, sports and culture, now lives here
*All pending amounts as of March 2015