Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Thursday extended his ultimatum to the State government to reverse the power tariff concessions given for malls, multiplexes and construction sites.
Addressing journalists here, he said: “I met Energy Minister Sunil Tatkare, who told me that the matter would be taken up at the Cabinet meeting today [Thursday]. I have therefore decided to defer our agitation. Depending on what the government’s stand is, I will take a decision tomorrow[ Friday].”
On Tuesday, he warned that the MNS would forcibly shut down malls, multiplexes and construction sites across the State if the concessions were not withdrawn by Thursday.
His contention is that the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) has approved a four per cent tariff hike for residential consumers of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL), while reducing rates from Rs.12.25 (for construction sites) and from Rs.7.39 (for malls and multiplexes) to Rs.7.15 a unit for all three categories.
“Like a tennis match”
“Getting involved in this issue is like watching a tennis match,” Mr. Thackeray said. “The government says the MERC is an independent body, while the MERC says it is acting on court directives. The fact of the matter is that the government can intervene in the matter under Section 108 of the Electricity Act of 2003.”
However, the Act also directs the MERC to reduce cross-subsidies given to residential users (in the form of higher charges for commercial and industrial consumers).
“Laws are meant for people; people are not meant for laws. There should be humanitarian considerations beyond legal ones,” he said.
Mr. Thackeray pointed out that the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), which caters for the island city where Mumbai’s affluent class resides, charged Rs.1.80 a unit for the first 100 units. But the MSEDCL, which meets the demands of the State other than Mumbai, collected Rs. 2.35 a unit for the first 100 units, despite 10-12 hours of loadshedding every day.
Mr. Thackeray called upon the government to implement a uniform tariff as in New Delhi.
“No land available”
Assailing the government’s claim that it would resolve the power crisis by 2012, he said: “MOUs [Memorandums of Understanding] have been signed for 16 projects, but not even an inch of land has been made available. And these projects take a minimum of three years to complete.”