BEST fails to convict electricity thieves

Mumbai : The loss making Brihanmumbai Electrical Supply and Transport (BEST) has been able to increase the number of Ganesh mandals taking eletricity from it over the past years but it is unable to take action against those taking electricity illegally. In last five years, the BEST has been able to convict only 12 of the 400 cases of electricity theft registered against the mandals.

The BEST officials have blamed the large number of mandals in the city which make it difficult for them to keep a tab on. “The law of the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Authority (MERC) states that there had to be dishonest intention proven against the accused,” said a senior BEST official on the condition of anonymity.

The officials face difficulties in proving malicious intentions on the part of the accused in electricity theft cases which help the accused to walk out after paying necessary fine.

The official said, “A lot of times, people say that it is not my fault and someone has tried to trick me or someone else has tampered with the meter. With such cases we have to check their previous record and overall history.” With such cases, BEST is not able to register criminal cases as it is difficult to prove them.

“With the main aim to generate revenue, we do not pursue the cases further as long as the intention is fulfilled,” added the official.

BEST general manager OP Gupta said, “We will be working in coordination with the Mumbai police and filing cases against Ganesh mandals for theft of electricity. Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria has assured full co-operation from the police in taking actions against them.”

The number of mandals applying for electricity has also gone up. Gupta added, “We have received about 1300 applications this year. The process for applying has also been streamlined.”

Earlier, it used to take about 10 days for the mandal to procure necessary permissions but this year it takes not more than two days to get BEST connection with the new process in place.

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