Maharashtra: No decision on high power bills despite protest threat

Updated: 20 November, 2020 07:48 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

State cabinet chooses to discuss financial position of state-owned power distribution company Mahavitaran before decision on doling out sops

BJP leaders burn bills in protest against the inflated electricity charges, at BJP Pradesh Office, Nariman Point, in July. Pic/Ashish Raje
BJP leaders burn bills in protest against the inflated electricity charges, at BJP Pradesh Office, Nariman Point, in July. Pic/Ashish Raje

Under attack from the Opposition for not fulfilling the promise of 100 units of free electricity and waiver on inflated bills before Diwali, the Maharashtra cabinet on Thursday chose to discuss the financial position of state-owned power distribution company Mahavitaran before taking any decision on doling out sops.

The cabinet on Thursday tried to appease the farmers by deciding to give the state firm an annual financial assistance of Rs 1,500 crore. This aid is meant to create the basic infrastructure to give at least 1 lakh more agriculture connections every year through solar pumps until 2024. The cabinet also decided to power farms during the day instead of nights for at least 8 hours daily.

BJP leaders burn bills in protest against the inflated electricity charges, at BJP Pradesh Office, Nariman Point, in July. Pic/Ashish Raje

Interestingly, farmers constitute a significant number of people who haven't paid their power bills. The cabinet told the energy department to make serious efforts to recover the dues by creating awareness and offering amnesty schemes that have heavy discounts.

Also Read: Mumbai: Maharashtra government now says no to electricity bill discount

"The issue is very serious because of the bad finances of the companies. The distribution company, MSEDCL [Mahavitaran], has Rs 69,000 crore bill arrears, mostly from the tenure of the previous government. The agricultural and residential dues are massive and the company must recover it to ensure financial stability," a minister said.

The minister said the cabinet did not pay much attention to the protests announced by opposition parties, like MNS, the BJP and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi and ally Swambhimani Paksh (Shetkari Sanghatana). The minister said CM Uddhav Thackeray was expected to discuss the matter again on Friday or Saturday.

The MNS has warned of fury on the streets if the government does not take a decision by this weekend. Senior MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar said the protests will be difficult to handle for the power companies and the government.

Heavy vehicles to pay more toll tax

At the Cabinet meeting, the government also decided to increase the toll tax for heavy vehicles. Heavy vehicles [multi-axle]will pay at least 10 per cent more toll at the 15 plazas. This will enable the government to compensate the toll operator against the loss of revenue because of a waiver for small vehicles.

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First Published: 20 November, 2020 07:25 IST

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