Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Tuesday said the drive of disconnecting power supply to farmers or other domestic consumers who failed to clear their dues will be stopped immediately till the issue is discussed in the state Assembly.
Pawar made the announcement in the state Assembly after Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis raised the issue in the House.
Earlier in the day, BJP MLAs also held a protest at the State Assembly against Maharashtra Government, over the issue of power connections of farmers being disconnected due to pending bills.
Fadnavis said there is "a lot of anger" among people across the state over the inflated electricity bills.
Lakhs of people have received notices for power supply disconnection, he said.
"Farmers have already suffered big losses due to lockdown and heavy rainfall. Now, they are facing the power supply disconnection crisis," the BJP leader said.
Without naming state Energy Minister and Congress leader Nitin Raut, Fadnavis said the former had talked about giving relief to lockdown-hit consumers, but instead power tariff was increased.
"Small shopkeepers could not do business during the lockdown. Now you are asking them to pay bills. From where are they going to pay it? So, there is a big problem," the former chief minister said.
Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole pitched for stopping the on-going drive of disconnecting the power supply.
Patole also said the tradition of issuing average electricity bills to consumers has to be stopped.
He demanded that the electricity department take an actual power meter reading before issuing bills to consumers.
Responding to this, Pawar said, "I would like to tell on behalf of the state government that the drive of disconnecting the electricity supply of farmers or other domestic consumers will be stopped immediately until the issue raised by Devendra Fadnavis saheb is discussed." He said other decisions with regard to the issue will be taken after members of the House are satisfied with the discussion.
Fadnavis thanked the government for taking the decision but demanded the restoration of power supply to consumers who faced disconnection earlier.