State Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule has suspended three MSEDCL officials in connection with the death of an 82-year-old farmer from Chimnabagapur in Babulgaon tehsil in Yavatmal.
While deputy executive engineer Suresh Zade and assistant engineer Sanjay Kamble were accused of framing the farmer Amarlal Manihar in a false case of power theft, superintending engineer Ashok Fulkar was seen as not initiating action against the two despite directives by his superiors chief engineer Sanjay Taksande and director (operation) Abhijit Deshpande.
Manihar died on Monday following a heart attack after which the kin protested by taking his body to MSEDCL office. Bawankule, who was incidentally visiting Yavatmal, was apprised of the matter. He immediately ordered suspension of the three officials concerned.
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Zade and Kamble had allegedly framed Manihar after he had won a case against MSEDCL in a consumer forum last October, with the forum slapping the utility a Rs 2,000 fine. Manihar had moved the forum over failure of a transformer supplying power to his farm, in August, following repeated pleas for restoration going in vain.
After the verdict, Kamble allegedly framed Manihar in a false power theft case of Rs 1.01 lakh in January 2015. When Manihar approached Zade, he was asked to give it in writing that he won’t demand the Rs 2,000 fine if the theft case against were to be withdrawn.
Manihar then moved Taksande who directed Fulkar to act against Zade and Kamble. Fulkar, however, didn’t take any action even after Deshpande’s directive. Manihar received the letter about power theft on April 6. A shocked Manihar had to be hospitalised after developing health complications.
Prashant Gayakwad, Joint Secretory of Subordinate Engineers’ Association (SEA) said, “The case was not of power theft but of bill assessment. Our engineers had done it after it was sought by the consumer’s lawyer during the hearing. The inspection showed that he was drawing power by a 10 HP pump instead of 5 HP he was authorised to use. So, our officers sent him the bill for 18 months, the period for which the pump was in use. Our engineers are not at fault.”