The Bombay High Court Wednesday ordered setting up of a “special cell” comprising chief vigilance officer of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST) and Deputy Commissioner of Police (operations) to keep a check on power thefts during the upcoming ganpati and navratri festivals.
Justice P V Hardas and Anuja Prabhudessai took into consideration minutes of the meeting presided by Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria with BEST and police officials for taking measures to check power thefts.
In the meeting, Maria said BEST officials and Mumbai Police will share data of the ganpati mandals that have their permissions. Mandals will have to take permissions from BEST for having temporary meters.
The minutes of the meeting also revealed that all senior police inspectors were present in the meeting along with the umbrella body of all mandals in the city. They have been asked by the commissioner to coordinate with the special cell during the festival. The judges went ahead and asked that the same procedure should be followed during navratri.
The state government had on August 11 informed the court that strict action will be taken against those who carry out power thefts during Ganpati festival. The court, on suggestion of the state, had directed a meeting between BEST General Manager and the Maria for suggestions to prevent power thefts.
In a letter to the state, DCP(Zone 1) Ravindra Shisve said the police was inclined on taking action against power thefts during ganpati festival. The letter further said all zonal DCPs will appoint nodal officers under them to act on the complaints filed by BEST.
The state told the HC that all public mandals in the city can be informed about the issue after conducting a meeting with them. The court was hearing a PIL filed by activist Ketan Tirodkar. The PIL alleged during Ganesh and Navratri festivals, mandals collect money as donations for organising celebrations. Despite this, the PIL argued, they are given heavy concessions in power usage by the state.
“The power distribution companies suffer distribution losses of 15 per cent overall and 50 per cent in several pockets. These are mainly due to power thefts ,” the PIL alleged.