In response to a Right To Information (RTI) application that sought details about the electricity bills sent to the bungalow of state ministers between the months of March and July, the south-sub department of the state Public Works Department (PWD) stated that it doesn't have information for the said months due to the lockdown. Details are only available for the month of July, it added.
There are 17 bungalows in south Mumbai that are allotted to various state ministers and bureaucrats. Some of these bungalows serve as the official residence of state ministers Aaditya Thackeray, Jitendra Ahwad, Vijay Wadettiwar, Uday Samant, Varsha Gaikwaid, Dhananjay Munde, Anil Parab, Gulabrao Patil and Balasaheb Patil. The official bungalows of deputy chairman of the Maharashtra Legislative Council Dr Neelam Ghore and principal advisor to the chief minister Ajoy Mehta didn't receive any electricity bill from the BrihanMumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking in the last five months.
According to the RTI reply, nine bungalows have received the electricity bill only for the month of July. The rest of the bungalows have not received any bill between March and July.
"Due to the lockdown, we don't have any details regarding the electricity bills of the official seventeen bungalows between March and July. Details of the electricity consumption of some of the bungalows during the month of July are attached below," the PWD reply stated.
Officials from the electricity wing of the BEST attributed that meter readings were carried out all over south Mumbai soon after the undertaking resumed its operations in June.
"There might be a possibility that BEST sent the bills and no one was there at the bungalow to receive them during the lockdown. We need to check the records before making any official comment on the matter," an official of the electricity wing, BEST, told the Free Press Journal.
After the lockdown was lifted, BEST had sent inflated bills to its consumers, which had also sparked protests amongst people. BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Leader of Opposition and Congress corporator Ravi Raja had also filed a no confidence motion against BEST’s general manager.
"BEST should take responsibility for its own actions now and investigate this matter. Each and every citizen needs to be treated equally," Raja told FPJ on Saturday.
RTI activist Anil Galgali, who had filed the application, stated that BEST's management is becoming unprofessional each day. "There were protests across the city due to inflated bills. It is surprising that BEST has not sent any bills to the bungalows of ministers," Galgali stated.