SC asks BEST to stop recovering transport losses, electricity bills may go down by 15%
In a major relief to Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport’s (BEST) electricity consumers, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked it to stop collecting Transport Division Loss Revenue (TDLR) from its power consumers.
At least 10 lakh Mumbaikars, primarily from South and Central Mumbai will be affected from the ruling.
Reportedly, after giving an interim order, the court transferred the case to another bench to decide whether the TDLR collected by BEST over the last four years should be returned to consumers or not.
According to AHAR (Indian Hotel & Restaurant Association), the BEST has collected almost Rs 900 crore from its electricity consumers against TDLR every year, taking the total collection in four years to over Rs 3,600 crore.
“According to the Supreme Court, BEST shall not recover transport loss from electricity consumers after one month,” AHAR president Adarsh Shetty told TOI.
The restaurant association’s members, Guruprasad Shetty and Kamalakar Shenoy, have been fighting this battle against BEST in the Supreme Court for the last four years.
BEST general manager Jagdish Patil has refrained from commenting on the ruling, stating that he can only comment once he receives the judgement copy.
A detailed copy of the order would be sent to both plaintiff and BEST today.
Earlier, State Industries Minister Subhash Desai along with other members of the BEST committee had met Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis seeking his intervention in getting the TDLR surcharge removed from electricity bills.
According to a BEST committee member who was a part of the delegation, the TDLR charge accounted for near 15 percent of the total bill amount.
Shetty further stated that authorities opposed the move to impose TDLR, but BEST misinterpreted it.
“BEST apparently took advantage of the SC endorsement that it was a local body and can run transport and electricity businesses. It misinterpreted the SC’s remarks to earn TDLR from consumers. Recently BEST was supposed to revise tariff and decide on ending TDLR but it is still recovering it,” he said.
Cuffe Parade resident Guru Ram Shekhar says he is paying anywhere between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 more every month because of the TDLR.
“I understand that the BEST is making losses in its transport division and needs recover them. But the solution can’t be to charge those who might not even use use its buses for transportation. It’s like if Tata Motors sells less cars and suffers a loss in one year, they start charging their customers more for electricity to make up for the losses. The BEST either needs to separate the two divisions or adopt a completely new strategy to turn things around. Overcharging for electricity needs to stop,” Shekhar said.
When asked if he would want the amount to be refunded back, Shekhar said it’s alright if the BEST does not refund the earlier charges as long as it stops charging them in future.