On Friday, BJP's Devendra Fadnavis laughed off the inquiry announced by the Maharashtra government into the rise of Mahavitaran arrears under his regime. According to him, this was a face-saver as the state government couldn't live up to its promise of providing relief on the inflated electricity bills. He contended that such an investigation will uncover that all the arrears are from the 15-year Congress-NCP government in the state.
Lauding the performance of Chandrashekhar Bawankule, who served as the Energy Minister in his Cabinet, Fadnavis stated that electricity was purchased at the lowest rates from 2014 to 2019. The Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly dared the current government to provide concessions to the poor and farmers, which he claimed was done by the previous dispensation. Taking a dig at the inability of Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut to get his proposal of relief for consumers approved, the BJP leader alleged that neither NCP nor Shiv Sena took ministers from Congress seriously.
Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis remarked, "This is extremely funny. They fell flat on the face. First, they said that we will waive off power bills. When they realised that this is not possible, they resorted to constituting an inquiry. Do it. Conduct as many inquiries as you want. If a probe is conducted, all the arrears are from the Congress-NCP era. Under the leadership of Bawankule, all three companies improved their efficiency. Not just that, power was purchased at the lowest rates in the last 5 years."
He added, "They can only announce inquiries but can't do anything. We provided concessions to the poor and farmers. If you have courage, please do the same. In this Cabinet, nobody takes Congress seriously. Congress is the uninvited guest in this Cabinet."
Maharashtra government orders inquiry into deficit in state power firm (Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited) which took place under the previous BJP government: State Energy Minister Nitin Raut pic.twitter.com/DAkApPbVsF— ANI (@ANI) November 20, 2020
The issue of inflated electricity bills came to the fore during the lockdown period as the power corporation staff were not able to physically record meter readings. On November 2, Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut indicated that the state government was planning a 'Diwali bonanza' to ease the woes of the consumers. However, Raut on Tuesday made it clear that consumers have to pay the full amount of the power bill as it was not possible for Mahavitaran to incur further debt at this stage.
Noting that the country's largest electricity distribution utility was already under a debt of Rs. 69,000 crore, he highlighted that the Centre had offered to give a loan at 10.8 percent interest, which he described as "too high". At the same time, the people have been given the option of paying the bill amount in three installments. Moreover, Raut revealed that 69 percent of the outstanding bills have been recovered so far.