Mumbai: Accusing the BJP of being the real 'Sahukar', Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut on Wednesday said that the Central government is levying a higher interest rate than banks on loans given to the states.
Raut, who is facing criticism from the opposition in the state after he refused any subsidies or rebate on electricity bills, said that the situation was caused because the previous Devendra Fadnavis-led government failed to recover electricity bills.
"There was no COVID-19 pandemic at that time, nor was there any financial crisis like today. Why was the electricity bill not recovered by giving special discounts to the customers?" Raut told reporters.
The BJP government had increased the debt of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited more than coronavirus, he taunted and added that the debt of MSEDCL increased by Rs 37,000 crore in the five years BJP was in power.
"When we asked for financial subsidy for the state's power sector, the Central government asked us to take loans. Banks lend at 6 to 7 per cent, but the central government lends at 10.11 per cent. When they were in power in the state, a new meter was installed at Latur and then the electricity bill was illegally collected. Wasn't this Sahukari?" Raut asked.
The Minister said that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the financial position of the MSEDCL, but added that the biggest blow to the company was the "inefficiency" of the BJP government.
"The Maharashtra government is owed Rs 28,358 crore in GST. If this money had come, it would have been possible to give discounts on electricity bills. But the Modi government does not pay GST and does not help the state's power sector," Raut said.
"MSEDCL's arrears to all types of customers rose to Rs 51,146 crore in March 2020 from Rs 14,154 crore in March 2014. This means that during the five years of the BJP government, the arrears of MSEDCL have increased by Rs 37,000 crore. In other words, during the BJP government, the arrears increased by Rs 7,000 crore every year," he added.
Raut said that the Modi government is trying to force the state government to take loans by charging higher interest than banks and asked the BJP leaders in the state to force their own party's central government to pay arrears to the Maharashtra government.
"The people of the state will not tolerate the duplicity of the BJP at the Center obstructing the Maharashtra government and the BJP manipulating the agitations in the state," he said.