Electricity cut in Maharashtra for defaulters

Vol 5, PW 21 (05 Dec 01) Midstream & Downstream

This is a story that holds out hope for the chronically ill Indian power sector, marked by state electricity boards deep in the red thanks to politicians who think nothing of handing free electricity to their supporters.

Amidst this gloom is a bold, fearless attempt by a no-nonsense bureaucrat to change the system andmake consumers pay up for electricity used. In the past 10 months, Vinay Bansal, chairman of the Maharashtra State Electricity Board has disconnected electricity supply to 2.5m industrial, commercial and residential customers who have not paid up across the state.

He asks for a daily 'Disconnection Report' from MSEB field officials. "We have put in place a good team now," Bansal tells PETROWATCH.

"Disciplinary action was taken against some officials. Energy audits are taking place.

Teams are out in the field daily. Not only do we disconnect supplies to defaulters but are also able to detect theft of electricity.

Some of our officers have been beaten up, but in many cases people have paid up their bills and got reconnections." And the response from politicians "So far there has been no political opposition but I've been asked not to disconnect supplies to agriculturists (a powerful lobby) in drought areas." MSEB supplies electricity to all of Maharashtra state, except Bombay. It has 13m consumers of which 11.8m receive subsidised or free electricity.

Till recently, MSEB was considered one of the few 'healthy' state electricity boards in India.