Mumbai: Adani bills soar upto 50 percent, MNS to protest
With hundreds of consumers complaining that power bills have ballooned by up to 50 per cent, Raj Thackeray's party to hit the streets today
Electrified by rising - and allegedly inflated - power bills, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has called for protests against the Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML) on Saturday. The protests, to be held at the Borivli office of the power company, will be the first political demonstration against AEML since the company took over electricity distribution from the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure.
While MNS has alleged a '40 to 50 per cent' rise in power bills and unit consumption, AEML has dismissed the allegations as baseless. Senior MNS leader Avinash Abhyankar claimed that the party has cases to substantiate their claim of citizens receiving inflated power bills from AEML. "One can understand a fluctuation in bills and unit consumption to a certain extent. But a 40 to 50 per cent sudden rise is something we're not willing to buy," he said. The alleged inflation has plagued several consumers from the western suburbs for the past couple of months. In fact, some of them are even claiming that the bill amount was much lower during the Reliance tenure.
A resident of Vazira Naka in Borivli endorsed MNS's claims. "My power bills, too, have gone up suddenly. In fact, this has become a talking point among many of my friends. I'm not an expert, but I certainly feel there something is wrong," the consumer said on condition of anonymity.
Avinash Abhyankar, MNS leader
MERC driving hike
When mid-day reached out to AEML officials, they categorically denied the allegations. They said, "We have already responded to the queries raised by MNS. The contentions raised are completely baseless as the electricity tariff is determined by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC). The commission has revised tariffs, which have come into effect from September 01, 2018, with a nominal increase of 0.2 per cent". AEML has also been tweeting against the allegations, urging customers to reach out to them instead of believing 'rumours'.
MNS's poster announcing the protest. MNS workers have taken to social media and started circulating messages on it to build a strong case against the power company
Flexing political muscle
But this is not enough for MNS, whose office bearers from the North Mumbai section - namely Dinesh Salvi, Ghanshyam Parab and Naresh Sawant - are leaving no stone unturned to flex their political muscle over the bill row. In fact, MNS workers have taken to social media and started circulating messages on it to build a strong case against AEML.
MNS vice president Nayan Kadam has appealed to all citizens facing an issue with their bill to participate in the protest rally. "It should not be merely seen as a political move or a show of strength. It is an issue that concerns every household and citizen. People should participate in large numbers to get answers from the power company on their queries regarding the huge spike in electricity bills," Kadam said, adding, "The company will have to justify its reasons for the bills. If they fail to do so, we will ask them to rectify the error."
Reacting to AEML's claims that the 0.2 per cent hike has been approved by MERC, Kadam said, "If the regulatory body has approved the hike, then the bill should be proportionate to it, or be slightly higher including taxes. But the way the bill amount has risen by several hundred rupees clearly shows that something is wrong.
Also, how does one's electricity consumption suddenly increase by several units in a month? I have one case wherein the average consumption for the past several years was 300 units, but now the same consumer is getting bills showing their unit consumption as 375."
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