Even as the Maharashtra government is all set to cut power rates for electricity consumers in Mumbai, the row over power tariff took a fresh turn on Tuesday.
A bitter war of words broke out between Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam and private discom Reliance Infra (RInfra), which caters to over 20 lakh consumers in suburban Mumbai.
Nirupam, who had sat on a hunger agitation against RInfra’s power tariffs, approached Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan demanding a probe into his allegation that “there is a nexus between Reliance and Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC)”. He said the regulator had been “extremely benevolent towards a financial proposal put forth by RInfra”.
In his letter to the CM, Nirupam said: “It is reliably learnt that Reliance has been paying huge amounts as pay-offs to MERC to take care of their commercial interests. A thorough investigation by an appropriate authority must be ordered.”
While MERC member Chandra Iyengar refused to be drawn into the controversy, claiming she was yet to receive any communication pertaining to the MP’s allegations, Reliance Infra called allegations “defamatory, false, baseless, and levelled for motives best known to Nirupam”.
It further alleged: “Nirupam has been consistently and selectively targeting only Reliance even as the distribution of electricity in Mumbai was served by three other licensees namely BEST, Tata and MahaVitran.”
While Nirupam questioned “the inordinate delay by the Appellate Authority and Reliance’s alleged objection in approving request of 8 lakh Reliance consumers for switching over to the Tata network”, a press communication issued by an RInfra spokesperson refuted it vehemently.
The communication said, “The residential consumers of Reliance Infra consuming electricity up to 300 units per month have full freedom to opt for supply from Tata Power since August 2012 for more than 18 months, which would result into savings of up to 50% of their current bill. RInfra has taken enormous efforts to educate all such consumers to exercise their right and avail these benefits.
So far, 3 lakh consumers have taken this advantage and about 16 lakh others who fall in the category can take advantage of the same. The process can be accelerated through the support of all parties and adherence to the existing laid down process by the regulator, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission.”