Nagpur citizens oppose power tariff hike, load shedding

Hike proposed is fifth in a year; people blame power distributor for not recovering dues from the powerful

 
By Aparna Pallavi
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Taking the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MSEDCL) to task for financial mismanagement, citizens and people’s representatives stiffly opposed its move to hike power tariff for the fifth time in a single year.


At a public hearing in the city on October 8, MLAs and activists raised concerns like the failure of the franchisee model of power distribution and non-recovery from influential and affluent customers. They also turned down the proposal for load shedding in the region, saying it produces the highest amount of electricity in the state.

At a public hearing in the city on October 8, MLAs and activists raised concerns like the failure of the franchisee model of power distribution and non-recovery from influential and affluent customers
They also turned down the proposal for load shedding in the region
Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company MSEDCL’s financial woes, which are being cited as the reason for the proposed hike, is due to intentional non-recovery of Rs 300 crore dues from 20 powerful companies, say residents
Despite government orders prohibiting MSEDCL from severing connections to agricultural pumps till December 2011, 40 connections had been severed in Ramtek tehsil alone
Spanco, the power distribution franchisee has not given Rs 150 crore collected from people to MSEDCL
 
West Nagpur MLA Devendra Fadnavis protested the tariff hike saying despite the multi-year tariff system being in force, which does not allow tariff hike for at least three years, MSEDCL has hiked tariff four times this year without the consent of the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC). He pointed out that MSEDCL’s financial woes, which are being cited as the reason for the proposed hike, is due to intentional non-recovery of Rs 300 crore dues from 20 powerful companies, including Rs 120 crore from Reliance and Rs 40 crore from MNRCL Thane.

Farmer Chandrashekhar Tittarmare pointed out that despite government orders prohibiting MSEDCL from severing connections to agricultural pumps till December 2011, 40 connections had been severed in Ramtek tehsil alone.

Speakers flayed the franchisee model of electricity distribution, which has caused losses to MSEDCL. R B Goenka of Vidarbha Industries Association's energy cell disagreed with MSEDCL’s contention that the distribution franchisee, Spanco, does not come under the purview of MERC. He pointed out that Spanco has not given Rs 150 crore collected from people to MSEDCL. “Distribution losses have not come down to the promised level in the franchisee area, but the franchisee has raked in Rs 50 crore,” he said.

The recent reintroduction of heavy load shedding—three to seven hours in urban areas and 11 to 13 hours in rural areas—came under heavy fire. Tejinder Singh Renu, secretary of Nagpur Chamber of Commerce, demanded refund of the extra 40 paise per unit being paid by the citizens of Nagpur for zero load shedding for the past 18 months. Fadnavis alleged that the recent hue and cry over the shortage of coal, being used to justify the reintroduction of load shedding and staggering for industries, is fake, and demanded to know why Pune is being exempted from load shedding.

Regional director of MSEDCL, Anil Khaparde, says the power supply is likely to improve in a fortnight, and that the steep crunch in coal supply has been caused due to the Telangana crisis and heavy rains in Odisha from where coal is sourced. Power supply from the Central Grid has also been affected, he says. Regarding non-payment of collected dues by distribution franchisee Spanco, he says the franchisee has agreed to pay the outstanding amount of Rs 141.04 crore by November 30, and also to pay 18 per cent interest for the period of delay.

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