January 21, 2021 1:36:39 am
THE Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL) has warned domestic, commercial and industrial consumers to either pay their pending power bills or face disconnection of power supply.
The MSEDCL head office in Mumbai has issued directives to divisional offices across the state to start a drive to recover arrears from lakhs of consumers and, in case consumers refuse to pay up, disconnect their electricity connections. The company, however, has not set any deadline for payment of arrears.
MSEDCL spokesperson Anil Kamble said, “Orders have been issued to all MSEDCL offices to start the recovery process and disconnect the power connections if the bills remain pending. A campaign will be undertaken by all our offices across the state to recover the arrears from consumers.”
Kamble said the pending arrears will be recovered from domestic, commercial and industrial consumers. “However, agriculture consumers have been excluded from this,” he said.
A MSEDCL Pune spokesperson said that in the district, 23 lakh consumers have not paid their arrears. “We have to recover nearly Rs 1,329 crore from consumers in Pune district , which includes rural areas and jurisdictions of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad civic bodies,” he said. As for the deadline for payment of bills, he said, “It will soon be conveyed to the consumers.”
Officials of Pune MSEDCL said in western Maharashtra, over 47 lakh consumers collectively owe Rs 2,349 crore to the power utility. “Our financial crisis is mounting. We earnestly request consumers to pay their arrears,” appealed MSEDCL’s Pune regional director Ankush Kale.
A press release issued by the MSEDCL read, “By December 2020, Rs 63,740 crore in bill arrears are to be recovered from consumers across the state. If these arrears are not paid , we will have no option but to severe the power connections of consumers.”
The power utility said during the lockdown period, it had decided not to severe power connections. “State Power Minister Nitin Raut had instructed us not to disconnect electricity connections till December end,” said an official.
MSEDCL said it has extended the facility of paying power bills in instalments to consumers. “Besides, we have decided not to levy late fees. Also, we are taking up complaints of consumers regarding bills on top priority,” said an official.
The official said some time ago, the power utility had taken permission from MERC to launch a campaign for recovery of arrears in Mumbai and surrounding areas against industrial units, “We had severed connections of several consumers. However, after the state power minister directed us not to severe power connections, we had stopped the drive. But the arrears are mounting and it is becoming difficult for MSEDCL to carry out its functioning. MSEDCL also has to pay its creditors, including banks, and pay its employees,” the release said.
Consumer organisations are, however, not happy with the decision.
Sharad Chavan, general secretary of Bahujan Urja Union, said, “The decision is aimed at hurting consumers. MSEDCL should first take back the power tariff which was hiked from April 2020. Besides, it should waive off the bill from April to December, which is part of the lockdown period, when Covid-19 restrictions had affected industries and workers adversely.”
Vivek Velenkar, convenor of Sajag Nagrik Manch, said,”MSEDCL… should collect the arrears pre-Covid period. It should give priority to these arrears and not those during Covid-19 period.”
Velenkar said instead of targeting domestic consumers, MSEDCL should go after industrial and commercial consumers. “But it should ensure that they get the facility of instalments,” he said.
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