After Delhi, AAP slams Maharashtra power firms for 'bleeding' Rs22,000 cr

After having ordered an audit into Delhi's power distribution companies and filing a case against Reliance Infrastructure, Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Admi Party on Thursday turned its guns on Maharashtra, with the former Delhi chief minister releasing a dossier claiming corruption and wastage of Rs22,000 crore in the generation and distribution of electricity in Maharashtra.

The AAP blasted Reliance Infrastructure's practices in Maharashtra too, saying at a press conference in Mumbai that the Anil Ambani-group company was bleeding its consumers by buying power at exorbitant rates - up to double the cost at which power is generated - and of creating a monopoly of sorts and limiting consumer choice.

The AAP's Maharashtra convener Anjali Damania accused state power generator Mahagenco of a coal scam worth Rs12,000 crore over the last three years and 'wastage' of Rs19,000 crore in capital expenditure over five years, which instead of expanding capacity has actually seen generation dip.

A Reliance Infrastructure spokesperson dismissed the allegations as misleading and baseless. He said Reliance Infrastructure's average cost of buying power for them is Rs4.16 per unit, the lowest in Mumbai, and not over Rs6-12 per unit as alleged by AAP.

But according to the AAP, Maharashtra's power tariffs are the highest in the country. "The average cost of supply has risen by a whopping 68 per cent in the past five years from Rs3.7 in 2008 to Rs6.23 in 2013. High-end households are paying Rs10 to Rs14 per unit while industrial users are paying Rs8 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," Damania said.

Explaining the methodology behind what she called a "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 tonnes.

"Mahagenco lifted only 30.05 metric tonnes 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 Rs5,700 crore were lost in the last three years due to this," she said.

Damania said that Mahagenco's proposed capital expenditure of Rs1 lakh crore in the next eight years should be scrapped, and there should be no further capacity addition till there is 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.