MUMBAI: BEST committee members apprehend a huge migration of island city power consumers to Tata Power Company (TPC). While about 100 customers have already switched to TPC in recent months, the panel members fear that the hefty electricity bills and frequent power cuts could compel many others to switch to Tata Power.

There was furore at the BEST committee meeting on Monday as members asked the administration to take the issue seriously. “Tata Power is targeting several new building complexes and towers coming up in south and central Mumbai. Besides, there is a possibility of our customers switching over for cheaper power,” warned MNS member Kedar Hombalkar.

Congress member Ravi Raja alleged that TPC was taking away BEST customers in a big way. “In Worli, I found that many residents were getting power from TPC and they had no complaints. On the other hand, we (BEST consumers) are facing occasional power cuts in Sion-Matunga areas. Unless we strengthen our network and also give competitive tariff, it will be difficult to hold on to our existing consumers,” he pointed out.

BEST general manager Jagdish Patil said that the undertaking has challenged TPC’s distribution licence before the Superme Court. “We have also informed the MERC that BEST is a local authority and will not allow TPC to use our distribution network. If they want to supply power in the island city, the firm will have to set up its own network rollout plan,” he stated, adding that MERC will decide on the issue.

Patil said he had come across reports of TPC aggresively marketing its services in island city, distributing handouts and approaching BEST customers.

Sources said that TPC was a “preferred discom” for cheaper power in Mumbai. And since MERC encourages competition among power utility firms, the consumers can make a choice on whether to stay with BEST or to switch over to Tata Power for “cheaper, reliable” electricity supply.

At present, it is a cumbersome process to get a new electricity connection at BEST. In such a scenario, citizens may opt for another power utility firm and this could be detrimental for the BEST undertaking, which has been enjoying a monopoly for the past several years.

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Source: TOI-MUM