Power firms in bad shape, Raut says, blames BJP for `mess'

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Mumbai, Nov 19 (PTI) Facing growing demand to waive `high' electricity bills, Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut on Thursday said the state power firms are making huge losses, and it was a 'mess' created by the previous BJP regime.

Speaking to reporters, Raut also said that he had sent several proposals to the state finance department seeking help, but 'nothing happened'.

On the other hand, the BJP-led Union government was acting like a 'money-lender', he said.

Raut, a Congress leader, is under fire from opposition BJP and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) over his statement that consumers will have to make full payment of electricity bills.

With several consumers complaining of inflated bills, BJP MP Raksha Khadse on Wednesday threatened of launching an agitation if no waiver was granted, while the MNS asked people not to pay bills.

'When we sought financial assistance from the Union government as many people cannot pay electricity bills, we were offered a Rs 80,000 crore loan with interest rate of 10.11 per cent,' Raut said.

'The loan would come from nationalised banks, which generally charge interest rate of six to seven per cent. It means the Centre is acting like a money lender,' he said.

'I had personally asked the Centre to provide a Rs 10,000 crore subsidy to the state government the way it has helped other states. The demand was rejected,' he alleged.

When asked why the state finance department -- which is under NCP minister -- is not helping out, Raut said, 'Power companies are already making losses. My department sent eight proposals to the state finance department from time to time, but nothing happened.

'They must be doing some balancing act while allocating funds,' he said, when asked why departments held by the Shiv Sena seem to be having no problem getting funds.

The state government has been incurring a monthly revenue loss of Rs 7,500 crore during lockdown, Raut said.

During 2014-19, the arrears of power companies were Rs 20,735 crore, which ballooned to Rs 59,832 crore in March 2020, he said, adding that by the end of October 2020, the arrears have increased Rs 67,864 crore.

'It clearly means we have inherited the mess created by the BJP government when bills were not paid in time,' Raut alleged.

On Wednesday, Raksha Khadse warned of an agitation if electricity bills were not waived after Raut stated that it was not possible for the government to offer any relaxation.

Raksha, whose father-in-law Eknath Khadse recently quit the BJP and joined the NCP, alleged that the Sena-NCP- Congress government was going back on its promise to give relief to consumers. PTI ND KRK KRK