A day after leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cornered Surendra Kumar Bagde, general manager of the BrihanMumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST), by gheraoing him in his electric house office, the undertaking’s committee chairman and Shiv Sena corporator Anil Patankar stated the opposition is using it as soft target for its own political vendetta.
"Leaders of the opposition are targeting BEST for their own political agenda. The problem of overbilling is not just limited to the BEST consumers. People across the city and state have received hefty bills. However, they are not agitating inside the office of Adani. They are doing it here, because BEST is a soft target," Patankar told the Free Press Journal in an exclusive chat.
For the months of March, April and May, BEST had billed its consumers as per estimated consumption and last year figures, as the undertaking didn't conduct meter readings as per the order of Maharashtra Electric Regulatory Commission (MERC). Following June 15, the undertaking resumed its meter reading and added the balance amount of the three months to the bill of July.
Patankar said that he has already written to Mayor Kishori Pednekar and BEST GM, urging them to waive off the extra charges levied on the bill and to reassess the bill and re-read the meters.
"I have written to both Mumbai Mayor and BEST GM, urging them to waive off the extra charges. GM has also ordered all the zonal engineers to re-assess each bill. Anyone who has been charged overtly is bound to receive a credit," stated Patankar. "BEST has already announced a kindness package, allowing its consumers to pay in instalments. Its management also ensured there will be no disconnection of the electric supply, if anyone is not able to pay immediately," he assured.
Earlier, this week, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) leader of opposition, BEST committee member and Congress corporator Ravi Raja wrote to the city mayor demanding 'no confidence' motion against the BEST management. Leaders of the opposition have also alleged that the BEST management is reluctant to meet public representatives. However, the chairman asserted that Shiv Sena is not in part of such pressure tactics. The only demand of the party is to waive off the extra charges and redo the meter readings, if necessary.
"The management had a clear dialogue with Member of the Parliament (MP) Arvind Sawant two days back, where consumers from his constituency addressed their grievances. I met a group of corporators the other day. The management is only not meeting people who are coming in large numbers, because of the ongoing pandemic. Everyone is strictly adhering to the social distance policies," said the BEST chairman.
Meanwhile, in an SMS circulated to its consumers, BEST has stated there won't be any immediate disconnection of power supply if a payment has not been made for an account.
"We may, however, not disconnect supply immediately to avoid any discomfort to you under present circumstances," read the message.