HC asks Maha govt to take stand on PIL on power thefts
The Bombay HC asked Maha govt to file its say by September 6 on a PIL alleging power thefts
Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today asked the Maharashtra government to file its say by September 6 on a PIL alleging power thefts in the state during Ganesh and Navratri festivals by public mandals and seeking to stop such illegal practices.
A power distribution company today filed an affidavit in the court claiming that because of its vigilance, there was reduction in distribution losses. Such losses had come down from 13 per cent in 2005-2006 to 7.9 per cent in 2011-12, said Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST).
These figures are much lower than the standards set by MERC for BEST and the distribution losses of nearly eight per cent was the lowest in the country, the affidavit said.
The affidavit, filed by Vigilance Department Superintendent Girish Deshmukh, said it had a full-fledged vigilance squad of 60 persons and they had at their disposal latest gadgets and digital cameras to detect theft.
He said it was mandatory for the festival mandals to register themselves with the BEST and the vigilance squad visited them to verify the electricity consumed and the load required. In case of power theft, action was taken under the Electricity Act.
The affidavit said in the last five years, penalty to the tune of Rs 2.64 lakh had been collected. The number of pandals during festivals had gone up from 1,087 in 2010 to 1,212 in 2012. All this was possible because of strict vigilance, the affidavit said.
The respondents to the PIL are Maharashtra State Electricity Board, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), City police and BEST.
The PIL, filed by ex-journalist Ketan Tirodkar, alleged during Ganesh and Navratri festivals, public mandals collect huge amounts as donations for organizing celebrations. Despite hefty donations, mandals are given huge concession in power usage by the state power utilities, MSEB and BEST.
BEST and MSEB suffer distribution losses to the tune of 15 per cent overall and 50 per cent in some pockets. These are mainly due to power thefts resorted by ‘sarvajanik (public) mandals’ during festivals, the PIL alleged.