Congress leader demands power bill waiver for Mumbai

Updated: 18 June, 2020 07:56 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Asks energy minister to control overcharging of city consumers on the pretext of average billing for the lockdown period, says power firms taking 'undue advantage of the situation'

Manhas said that most commercial units were shut in the lockdown, but they still got huge bills. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Manhas said that most commercial units were shut in the lockdown, but they still got huge bills. Pic/Nimesh Dave

A Senior Mumbai Congress leader has demanded that electricity bills of the city's residential consumers who pay up to Rs 2,000 per month be waived off. He has also asked the government to prevent overcharging by the distribution companies on the pretext of average billing for the lockdown period.

Congress's city unit Vice-President, Dr Amarjit Singh Manhas, has highlighted various problems in a letter to Maharashtra Energy Minister and state Congress working president, Dr Nitin Raut. "People have been severely affected financially. Moreover, generating electricity bills using the average reading method has created a lot of chaos. Power firms are taking undue advantage of the situation by over charging the people of Mumbai," he said.

'Closed units got huge bills'
Manhas added that the consumers, who have been paying average bills of Rs 4,000 — Rs 5,000 for the past three months, have been asked to pay Rs 50,000 after their meters were read. "Most of the commercial units such as factories, shops, offices etc were shut, and yet they got exorbitant bills," he said, adding that the companies were threatening to impose late fees and interest on the unpaid bills for the lockdown period.

The leader said that Congress President Sonia Gandhi's directive to the party's and its alliance governments to provide poor people in rural and urban areas with relief packages should be followed. "I request you to waive off Mumbai's residential users' bills up to Rs 2,000. Please set up high power committees for each Parliament constituency to look into overcharging and also ask companies to resolve grievances within 14 days," Manhas said.

Waiver for 100 units proposed
Energy minister Raut told mid-day he has been working on a proposal to waive off monthly bills for consumption of up to 100 units across the state, including Mumbai. "However, since Mahavitaran is making a loss of R5,600 crore every month from March till date, and the budgetary provision for the energy department is cut substantially, we haven't been able to take a final decision. But I am sure it will happen in future," he said.

When asked if utilities in Mumbai other than Mahavitaran would be compensated in case of a waiver, Raut said things will be worked out at an appropriate time. He said the state and private distributors have been directed to not disconnect power supply in case of payment default and also asked them to allow consumers to pay dues in parts.

"After lockdown eased, Mahavitaran read meters and billed correctly. It has also given the benefit of consumption slabs (which determine the tariff for monthly units consumed below or above certain cap) to avoid overcharging for the lockdown period. We expect other companies to do the same," he said, adding that the suggestions made by Manhas will also be considered.

Approve treatment, chief minister tells Modi

CM Thackeray also sought a uniform policy for university examinations
CM Thackeray also sought a uniform policy for university examinations

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to approve some treatments for the COVID-19 infection, and sought a uniform policy for university examinations and farm loans by nationalised banks. Thackeray put forth these demands while presenting Maharashtra's point of view in a video conference with Modi on Wednesday. He said the state has created massive healthcare facilities in the past 70 days to chase the virus, and also attracted big investment of around R16,000 crore from national and multinational companies. He said testing has been increased and tracing intensified. He asked the PM to provide the state with ventilators. Thackeray also said state doctors have treated COVID patients with a combination of several drugs. "These treatments showed results and hence should be approved. These treatments were used on 90-year-olds and small children," he said. The CM also told the PM that Maharashtra wasn't in a position to conduct examinations immediately and had decided on a certain passing formula for professional courses."But we want the Central education agencies to decide on uniformity for professional as well as other courses so that the students across the country are treated equally," Thackeray said.

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First Published: 18 June, 2020 07:07 IST

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