Mumbai: As Maharashtra reels under a heat wave, coal shortages, and resources crunch with over Rs 76,000 crore in unpaid power bills, it has emerged that even VVIPs and politicians across the political spectrum have blatantly defaulted in clearing their electricity consumption dues.
While some have piled up bills worth lakhs of rupees, others have small amounts – but that also remain unpaid for years or decades, shocking the departments and officials concerned.
Among the powerful ones who have yet to clear their power consumption bills are Union and State Ministers, their families, MPs, MLAs from various political parties and certain organisations linked to them.
The revelations come against the backdrop of the Andhra Pradesh power distribution companies admitting before the Andhra Pradesh High Court this week that they are unable to pay monthly bills of power plants since January 2022.
The AP discoms also requested for a one-year time to pay up their dues – against the high court’s order of March 15 to clear the outstanding within 6 weeks – as they are unable to arrange funds/loans from anywhere.
In the Maharashtra case, a total of 372 VVIP consumers and some organisations, spread across 36 districts, together owe the government an amount of Rs 1.27 crore, for electricity consumption at their residential or commercial premises.
“The question is not about the amount that is pending from them… Its also about how they have not paid up for many years even if the dues are very small, and the kind of example such VVIPs set among the common masses,” rued an official, requesting anonymity.
Contacted by IANS, Power Minister Dr. Nitin Raut declined to comment on the VVIPs who have defaulted on power bills, but said he “humbly requested all the people in the state” to pay up their dues to help the power companies.
“Against all odds, among the 17 most affected states, Maharashtra has managed to eliminate load-shedding after the power-cuts experienced for 14 days in April. We are doing our best in public interest and I appeal to the people to please pay up their outstanding bills for common benefit,” Dr. Raut told IANS.
The honourables in the “power hit-list” are Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Minister of State for Railways Raosaheb Dadarao Danve-Patil with two bills of Rs 25,000 (2009) and Rs 10,000 (2013) unpaid in his home and farms in Jalna, besides the bills of other family members.
Union MSME Minister Narayan Rane has a bill of Rs 2,000 not paid since 1987, well before he became the state Chief Minister for a year!
Another big-shot is Nationalist Congress Party’s Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar with two commercial bills not paid – Rs 14,000 (2020) and Rs 9,000 (2021).
State Health Minister Rajesh Tope also figures with just Rs 340 unpaid since 2009, as well as his wife Manisha Tope’s dues of Rs 19,000 from a commercial premise, besides other kin who also have to pay up.
Congress’ ex-Chief Minister and currently Revenue Minister Ashok S. Chavan has a bill of Rs 1,900 pending since 1991 and an another unpaid bill of 2005 for Rs 2,500.
Congress’ MoS Agriculture Vishwajeet P. Kadam has two pending farm bills – Rs 18,000 (2012) and Rs 24,000 (2016).
All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP from Aurangabad, Syed Imtiaz Jaleel has yet to cough out Rs 2,700 for his residential connection since 2017!
Maharashtra Assembly’s ex-Speaker and BJP leader Haribhau K. Bagade is sitting on a bill of over Rs 31,000 since 1980 – for the past 42 years!
There’s an outstanding bill of Rs 20,000 since 1996 in the name of the late Union Minister Gopinath Munde, besides his widow Pradnyatai, who has to clear two bills – Rs 850 (2016) and Rs 2,700 (1994).
Congress MP Rajani S. Satav has to pay up Rs.21,000 on a residential bill, due since 1982.
Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai South Arvind G. Sawant has not paid Rs 425 for his residential connection in Sindhudurg, and MP Bhawana P. Gawali from Yavatmal-Washim has to pay up a residential bill of Rs 22,000 since 1974 and one more pending bill of Rs 7,600 since 2021.
Former Leader of Opposition and now BJP leader Radhakrishna E. Vikhe-Patil has to clear an agriculture bill of Rs 11,000 since 2011.
BJP MPs Ranjitsinh H. Naik-Nimbalkar has pending commercial, agriculture and residential bills of Rs 1,600 (2016), Rs 300 (2012) and Rs 210,000 plus Rs 88,400 (2013-2014), respectively and Ranjitsinh V. Mohite-Patil has to pay up two agriculture bills – Rs 171,000 (1989) and Rs 14,000 (1997).
Ex-home minister of NCP Anil V. Deshmukh has not paid two farmland bills – Rs 111,000 and Rs 122,000 – since 1997.
Shockingly, there are around 10 bills that remain unpaid since the 1960s – including the oldest dated March 1961 in the name of Pandurang N. Patil for Rs 196 !
Among the lowest dues are a bill of Rs 107 for Ramesh K. Karad (1999) among his many other bills, and Sunil S. Shelke’s residential bill of Rs 106 (2011) at the bottom of the heap.
At the top is the biggest debtor, BJP legislator Jaykumar B. Gore, who has a staggering unpaid bill of Rs 7.03 lakh, pending since 2008.