Maharashtra cabinet divided over proposal of 100 free units of power

Mumbai" Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Ajit Pawar has opposed the proposal of giving 100 unit power free of cost to domestic consumers. This has raised doubts on whether or not the government would implement the said policy.

The proposal is expected benefit more than 1 crore consumers and is also expected to burden the exchequer with Rs 8,000 crore. Going by the current fiscal position of the state government, it will be a tough task to implement this proposal.

The proposal to provide 100 unit power free of cost to domestic consumers has caused a difference of opinion in the Maha Vikas Aaghadi government, especially between the power minister and the finance minister.

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"We should not do this. We should not resort to such governance of freebies," Pawar had said while speaking at a programme in Pune. He also made it clear that the state government is reviewing the demand on how it can reduce the power tariff of the industry sector.

"We are studying what will the burden be if we slash taxes on the power supplied to the industry," he added. Opposition of Ajit Pawar is significant, as he is currently the finance minister and has also worked as a power minister for a long time.

It was Power Minister Nitin Raut, who announced that the state was mulling on a proposal to give 100 unit power for free to domestic consumers. He has directed Power Secretary Aseem Gupta to prepare a report feasibility of this proposal.

1.28 crore consumers will benefit

This proposal is expected to benefit more than 1.28 crore consumers, who use power up to 100 units. This will burden the Maharashtra Distribution Company Maha Discom), a power company owned by state government, by Rs 8,000 crore.

Maha Discom has 1.95 crore consumers and they pay Rs 25,000 crore as electricity bill. The Rs 33,000 crore bill of agriculture pumps is already pending with the state government.

The government uses a cross subsidy pattern by loading this extra burden on industrial and domestic consumers. But in this case, the power tariffs will again increase for these categories.