In a move that will bring relief to one-crore plus consumers in Maharashtra, the Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition government has decided to bear the bulk of “additional” burden in power bills during lockdown months. It will also address complaints of high power bills by people, including prominent industrialists and film celebrities in the state.
According to a proposal to be discussed in the Cabinet, all eligible households will be liable to pay only for the units consumed in the corresponding month in 2019. For cases where the billed units for April, May and June this year exceed the corresponding usage by 100 units or less, the government has proposed to bear the entire cost of the surplus consumption. It will absorb 50 per cent of the extra burden for cases where the surplus billed units range between 101 units and 300 units, and 25 per cent where the same is between 301 units and 500 units, sources said.
The proposal was finalised during a meeting between Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who also heads the Finance department, and Energy Minister Nitin Raut last month, an official told The Indian Express.
As per estimates, more than 1.14 crore households, which make up for 90 per cent of residential consumers in the state will benefit from the sop. The populist move, however, is likely to cost the state exchequer Rs 1,071 crore. The proposed move will cover consumers with both state and private discoms, officials said.
Of the beneficiaries, 97.44 lakh are enrolled with MahaVitran, the state’s power generating arm, 9.01 lakh with Adani Power, 3.33 lakh with Tata Power, and 4.02 lakh with the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport.
In cases where consumers have already paid the bills, sources said the excess amount will be adjusted in the coming month’s bill.
Officials, however, said the benefits would not be available to commercial and industrial consumers.
With a complete lockdown in place in April and May, provisional bills on the basis of average power consumed during January-March this year were issued. Actual meter readings could be taken only after activities started resuming beginning June 5.
While the government had justified the “excess” bill stating they were based on actual consumption, pressure had mounted with even prominent industrialists and film celebrities alleging they had been billed excessively. Some had even complained that the billed amount was thrice the average bill they paid. It has now bowed to the popular sentiment.
With the middle and lower middle class struggling to cope with the financial crisis due to lockdown, elected representatives, too, had demanded a waiver of some sort in power bills.