Mumbai : Taking a cue from the Aam Admi Party, the Democratic Front government of Maharashtra has succumbed to the lure of populism.
However, the decision will not apply to Mumbai.
“This will reduce the burden of the power tariff hike announced in September 2013,” Ajay Mehta, Chief Secretary, Power, stated in a press note.
“We had been receiving complaints, even from our elected representatives. So, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan asked Narayan Rane to head a committee to assess the possibilities of a tariff cut,” said Manekrao Thackeray, Mahrashtra Pra-desh Congress Committee president.
The reduction will cost the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Rs 706 crore in power subsidy. Of this, the government will cough up Rs 606 crore; the balance Rs 100 crore will be borne by the Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company and the Maharashtra State Power Generation Company. Significantly, Mumbai is not within the ambit of this decision. A member of the committee on power tariff said on condition of anonymity, “From the outset the Rane committee was asked to only look at the rest of the state, Mumbai was never in the loop. This fact wasn’t communicated on the Assembly floor when Power Minister Ajit Pawar assured the House that tariff reduction will be looked into.”
The opposition on Monday attacked the government for hoodwinking the people of Maharashtra. “The government has been consistently misleading legislators and the general public. This decision is misleading and it is with an eye on elections. We strongly believe the government is interested in paying the Tatas and Ambanis by giving this subsidy,” said Vinod Tawade, leader of opposition in the Legislative Council.
Recently Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam had demanded reduction in power tariffs across the state, including Mumbai. He had even threatened to stage a protest. Chavan had then assured Nirupam that there would be a reduction in power tariff in Mumbai city, even though Rane committee was formed to look into reduction of tariff for agricultural farmers and industrial users.
Speaking to Free Press Journal, Nirupam said, “Yes, he had assured me on reduction of power tariff for Mumbai domestic users and it must be done. Right now the decision is restricted to Rane committee’s report, so let us wait for the next announcement. I am positive the chief minister will stick to his word. Otherwise, as I had said earlier, we will continue to demand tariff reduction for Mumbai city and, if required, even agitate for it.”