The BEST Undertaking has collected Rs 17.26 crore fine in the last two years for electricity theft and meter tampering. During the FY 2018-19, the BEST vigilance team collected a fine of Rs 875 lakh. In 2019-20 it collected Rs 851 lakh.
According to BEST officials, the vigilance department often receives anonymous letters and phone calls, informing them about miscreants who tamper electricity meters or consume power via unmetered supply. A team of vigilance officers conducts raids and if found guilty, BEST penalise the individuals by imposing fine.
The officials also tally the distribution charts, if they find that the consumption is more than the revenue in any area then they conduct raids.
“Most of the electricity theft and meter tampering happens at the slum areas of Antop Hill, Dharavi and Geeta Nagar. Most of the people living in those slums don't have a registered meter and consume electricity by stealing power supply from other meters," BEST spokesperson, Manoj Varade told FPJ.
Officials also informed, in areas like Dharavi and Antop Hill there are major influences of 'Power Mafias'. Officials stated, these mafias supply electricity to the slum areas through illegal meter supply chains and extort money from the residents. “In slum areas, tampering of meters happens on a daily basis, people run coolers refrigerators and high-power gadgets by illegally consuming electricity as a result consumption in slum areas are generally more than revenue generated," added Varade.
"If there are 30 families living in a slum area, the power mafia will arrange electricity by getting five registered meters. From those five meters, electricity would be supplied to all the families. The mafia will take money from the 30 families and will pay electricity charges for only five meters, while the remaining money goes to his pocket" an official explained.
In the last two years BEST busted 3,102 individuals for meter tampering and electricity theft. The undertaking stated, many of them were part of the Power Mafia syndicate. BEST officials have appealed to Mumbaikars to inform the vigilance department if there is an ongoing theft of electricity in their neighbourhood. “Mumbaikars can tip us anonymously. They need to provide us with the consumer number of the suspect or the location," Varade said.