Claiming that electricity tariffs in Maharashtra were the highest in the country, Aam Aadmi Party today blamed the inefficiency and corruption in the state power ministry and generation and distribution companies for the situation.
Addressing a press conference, AAP Maharashtra convener Anjali Damania demanded an inquiry into the mismanagement of the power and distribution companies. "The average cost of supply had risen by a whopping 68 per cent in the past five years from Rs 3.7 in 2008 to Rs 6.23 in 2013. High-end households are paying Rs 10 to Rs 14 per unit while industrial users are paying Rs 8 to Rs 10. Thousands of medium and large-scale industries have decided to move to other states, depriving our state of revenue by way of taxes and employment opportunities," she said.
Explaining the methodology behind what she alleged as "power scam", Damania said it was a perfect example of how bureaucrats and politicians can loot the exchequer through low utilisation of coal and coal imports.
She asked why Mahagenco did not lift the full coal allocation from Coal India in 2013 which was 41.97 metric tones. "Mahagenco lifted only 30.05 metric tones though its needs were much higher. Bureaucrats opened a window for kickbacks by buying coal from other resources, and Coal India also benefits as they get to sell the coal not taken by Mahagenco in the open market at premium prices," Damania said. "Nearly Rs 5,700 crore were lost in the last three years due to this," she said.
Damania said that Mahagenco's proposed capital expenditure of Rs 1 lakh crore in the next eight years should be scrapped, and there should be no further capacity addition till there is a maximum utilisation of existing plants.
Damania also demanded that some 18 lakh un-metered connections should be brought under metering immediately, and details of pending electricity bills of sugar factories and private engineering colleges be made public.
Meanwhile, Mahagenco and Mahavitaran said in a joint statement that the allegations were "false and misleading." "Last year Mahagenco imported nearly 8% of the coal required, for which it had to spend Rs 1,500 crore. In such circumstances, alleging Rs 12,000 crore scam is false and misleading," it said. Damania had alleged that the state lost a whopping Rs 12,000 crore due to coal imports in the past three years.
On the allegation that Maharashtra had the highest tariffs, the statement said, "The basis of allegation is unclear as they have not specified which category of consumers are charged with such high tariffs. Besides, the tariff is determined by the MERC. If they have any issues with the tariff, then they should approach the appellate or Supreme Court."
Reliance Infrastructure, in a statement, termed the allegations "false and baseless" and made for political considerations". Damania had alleged that RInfra used its clout with the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission to end fair competition. "The average cost of power purchases for RInfra is Rs 4.16 per unit, the lowest in Mumbai, and not over Rs 6 per unit as falsely alleged by AAP. RInfra does not buy any short term power at Rs 12 per unit, as falsely alleged by AAP.
RInfra does not buy any exorbitantly priced power from sister concerns, as falsely alleged by AAP," it said.