Power consumers in the island city-from Colaba / Cuffe Parade to Mahim / Sion-already receive electricity at a 20% lower price than the rest of Maharashtra. In fact, after the state government announcement on power subsidy for MSEDCL consumers on Monday, the tariff across the state is now almost on par with the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking (BEST).
This was pointed out by BEST general manager Om Prakash Gupta, who felt there was no urgent need for a subsidy in the island city. “We will welcome any government subsidy but it will reduce our tariff further and may create a divide with the rest of the state-which may not go down well with consumers in other districts,” he said at a committee meeting on Tuesday.
He told panel members from the Shiv Sena, Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena that he did not want to comment on the “political announcement” by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on power subsidy. “I just want to make it clear that till date we have been supplying power at a cheaper rate and also bearing cross-subsidy costs for the transport wing,” he said, pointing out that BEST had a diverse mix of consumers-from those in slum pockets of Dharavi to those in highrise apartments in areas like Malabar Hill, Cuffe Parade and Colaba.
“Our tariff (now on par with MSEDCL) includes the transport division loss recovery (TDLR)-which we charge power consumers to subsidize the running of 4,200 buses in Mumbai, Thane, Mira Road and Navi Mumbai,” he pointed out.
In the present tariff for 0-100 units consumption, the energy rate of Rs 3.38/unit includes the TDLR cost of 55 paise/unit. “Similarly, for 101-300 units, consumers have to pay an energy charge of Rs 6.26/unit, which includes the TDLR of Rs 1.03/unit,” he said. If you compare it with subsidized rates of MSEDCL consumers, it is Rs 3.36/unit (0-100) and Rs 6.05/unit (101-300) respectively.
Shiv Sena members said the subsidy, was a “political gimmick”, while the BJP demanded that the state should also give a direct subsidy to the transport wing. “Why cannot the government announce a relief for 40 lakh commuters travelling by BEST buses daily?” said Shriniwas Tripathi (BJP). Shivji Singh (Congress) said BEST should generate its own power through methane gas plants at Deonar or hydraulic power stations near civic water reservoirs. Though Tata Power charges the lowest in Mumbai, it does not cater to as many residential consumers as BEST and RInfra.