The State Cabinet earlier cleared a reduction across the State, except in its capital

AICC secretary and MP Sanjay Nirupam began an indefinite hunger strike on Thursday morning to demand reduction in power tariff in the city.

Mr. Nirupam started his agitation outside the Reliance Infrastructure’s Divisional Office at Kandivli, north Mumbai. The Anil Ambani-owned power company provides electricity in his constituency.

Earlier this week, the Maharashtra Cabinet cleared a reduction in power tariff by 15 to 20 per cent across the agriculture industry and for domestic consumers across the State, except in Mumbai. “I spoke to the Chief Minister and asked him to implement the tariff reduction in Mumbai as well. He has assured me that it will be done next week,” said Mr. Nirupam.

Last Monday, hundreds of Congress workers led by MPs Priya Dutt and Mr. Nirupam protested at the same place.

Reliance Infrastructure supplies power to 20 lakh consumers in the city and its rates are highest here. Others supplying power include Tata Power and public undertakings BEST and the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co Ltd.

Another demand

Mr. Nirupam is also pressing for Reliance Infrastructure to lift the surcharges on the power bill. “There are extra charges on the bill that do not make sense. I will stop the strike only after the company stops levying the fixed charge, the regulatory asset charge and the wheeling charge. Currently, Reliance Energy makes about Rs. 1600 crore. Without these charges, it would lose only about Rs. 50 crore,” he said.

Reliance Infrastructure, on its part, has said that reduction in power tariff is in the hands of the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission. “The company has forwarded the demand to the Maharashtra government which has already formed a committee to look into the matter. We have also written to Mr. Nirupam and have explained to him that power reduction is not our prerogative,” a Reliance Energy spokesperson said.

Mr. Nirupam added that MERC was not a transparent body.

“It is a regulatory body which is just working on the behest of private companies,” he said.