Mumbai: MNS, Congress step up power bill protests against Adani
They want AEML to prove electricity charges have only been hiked by 0.2 per cent, as approved by the MERC, and not by the 15 to 20 per cent that several citizens have seen in their bills
Political parties are stepping up the pressure on Adani Electricity Mumbai Limited (AEML) over its allegedly inflated electricity bills. With the 15-day period given by MNS to AEML coming to an end, the party's workers have put up hoardings across the suburbs, challenging the power supplier to participate in open public debate.
They want AEML to prove electricity charges have only been hiked by 0.2 per cent, as approved by the MERC, and not by the 15 to 20 per cent that several citizens have seen in their bills.
mid-day had highlighted in a front-page report on November 17 how suburban residents have been complaining about receiving inflated electricity bills after AEML took over the power distribution business from the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure. MNS had staged a protest at AEML's Borivli office, where it explained officials the reason behind the public's anger. MNS refused to accept AEML's explanation, and gave them 15 days to respond to queries raised by them.
With the warning period ending soon, MNS has put up flex boards around all railway stations questioning the tariffs applied by AEML. "AEML is asking for further time to reply on the issues that MNS tabled. We have accepted their request. But we will not wait for long. If rates are not reduced, the next leg of the agitation will be of a much greater intensity," MNS leader and Raj Thackeray's close aide Avinash Abhyankar told mid-day. Party vice president Nayan Kadam warned they will have no option but to use the 'MNS style' to resolve the issue.
Hoping to make inroads in suburban households over the issue, even Congress is flexing its muscles by organising a protest against AEML outside railway stations on Friday. Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam claimed the inflated power bills have become the concern of every aam-aadmi.
Speaking about their protest, a senior Congress leader said, "We want this to be a public movement and not merely a political slugfest. In the morning, citizens are busy reaching their workplace. We don't want to inconvenience them by conducting a rally at a railway station in peak hours. Hence, the protest has been organized in the afternoon."
An AEML spokesperson told mid-day, "The tariff increase has no correlation with Adani taking over the Mumbai [power] distribution business. It is only a coincidence that the timing of the tariff revision coincided with the takeover. Further, the electricity consumption of the consumers increases in the month of October every year due to increasing temperatures and humidity. Residential slab rates are applied telescopically i.e. when consumption increases, higher units fall under progressively higher slab rates. Due to this, an increase in bill amount, with an increase in units is non-linear i.e. bills increase significantly as more and more units fall into higher slabs. The increased consumption (units) combined with the tariff rates approved by MERC increased the bill amount for October consumption bills. This is a natural phenomenon and is repeated every year. Further, AEML, or any distribution licensee for that matter, is not authorised to charge any tariff other than that approved by MERC. We are addressing the customer queries by educating them and providing factual information."
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