Mumbai building residents bear the brunt of alleged power theft by cops
Mankhurd police illegally consume Rs 2.5 lakh worth of power, 40 families bear the brunt, unable to draw any water
Even as the Mumbai police cracks down on the electricity theft mafia by arresting them under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), it turns out that one of their own police stations - at Mankhurd - has allegedly been stealing power unabashedly. Shockingly, even after the crime came to light, the police refused to clear the bills, resulting in their connection being cut.
A resident shows the empty spot from where the power company ripped out the police station’s illegal three-phase connection to the building's common meter
It may seem like just deserts for the Mankhurd police's illegal power connection to be cut but, unfortunately, they are not the only ones being punished.
The Mankhurd police station is situated on the first three floors of the Hiranandani Akruti building, which houses project-affected people from across the city
The police station is situated on the first three floors of Hiranandani Akruti building, which was built by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to house project-affected people (PAPs). The cops had hijacked the building's common electricity meter, which supplied power to the public passages, lifts and water pump. When this theft was discovered in September 2016, the power company, Reliance Energy, cut the connection altogether. Since then, the building's 200-plus residents have had to put up with dark passageways. Worse yet, they are forced to climb up the stairs of the seven-storey building since the lifts are not working. This gets even more frustrating because they have to keep running downstairs to fetch water, as the pump doesn't work either.
Anita Mali, fifth-floor resident
'Why should we pay?'
Anita Shetty, who has to climb up to her home on the fifth floor several times a day, said, "We are living in a sorry state, as our lifts are not working and we do not get water supply at home. The society asked the cops to pay the outstanding amount, as they had used electricity from the main connection. But they did nothing."
"The cops kept saying that they had a separate connection; they refused to accept that they were using power from the common meter," added another resident.
The Mankhurd police were allotted space in the building in September 2009; they occupy 24 rooms in total. The other residents arrived much later, in April 2016. Less than six months later, in September 2016, they were shocked when the society was slapped with an electricity bill of Rs 2.5 lakh (July 2015 to Aug 2016).
Residents requested the authorities to inspect the power connection to get to the bottom of the matter. An MMRDA official recalled, "The inspection revealed that the police had joined a 3-phase connection to the common meter, which led to a higher usage, putting the entire monetary burden on the residents' shoulders."
MMRDA officials tried to persuade the cops to pay their dues, to no avail. That month, the power connection was cut. "We have been following up this matter since we moved in, but the police refuse to accept their responsibility. Because of their adamance, all residents are suffering. Why should we pay for the electricity used by the police? We hope this ends soon," said Kiran Patil, who lives on the third floor.
While the police still have an independent connection that supplies power to most of their premises, it's the residents who are forced to pay, one way or another.
Will beg outside police station
The residents have now approached Advocate Vijay Raorane for legal assistance in the matter. He said, "We have given an ultimatum to the Mankhurd police and MMRDA to resolve the matter, or the residents will organise a dharna outside the police station." Raorane also wrote a letter stating the residents would sit outside the police station and beg to organise funds for payment.
The other side
On being contacted by mid-day, Sanjay Vernekar, senior inspector at Mankhurd police station, said, "We have a separate meter for our connection, and we pay for it regularly. This issue is regarding lights in the building passage and the office on the first floor. We will resolve this issue with the residents."
Prakash Swami, liaison officer at MMRDA, said, "The cops were using power illegally for over a year-and-a-half. The outstanding bill amount is huge. As the cops used the electricity from common meter, they must pay for the same. We will sit with both the residents and the police to resolve this issue soon."
Also view - Photos: 10 unsolved murders in Mumbai