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The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking's administration has opposed a move by the Union Power Ministry that could prevent BEST from cross-subsidising transport losses from its supply division, and allow private distributors to supply electricity to residential and commercial units in the island city.
The Union ministry has proposed an amendment to the Electricity Act 2003, which the BEST administration believes could threaten the survival of the undertaking. The Ministry plans to send the proposal for Cabinet approval soon.
Om Prakash Gupta, General Manager of BEST on Tuesday said, "I see no reason why the amendments are being made. We have sent a strong objection to the proposed amendment, as it raises questions on the survival of such an old organisation."
During a BEST committee meeting on Tuesday, Gupta asked the members from political parties to support the BEST administration. The committee has now decided to deliberate on the issue, and take it up with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray.
The Union ministry plans to remove Sections 51 and 42 (3) of the Electricity Act. While Section 51 allows BEST to continue cross-subsidising its transport losses from the supply side, Section 42 (3) prevents private distributors from meeting supply needs of units that consume more than one megawatt of electricity. BEST and New Delhi Municipal Corporation are the only two organisations that use the special provisions in the country.
Gupta said, "Open access will take away our clients and allow private players to distribute electricity in the island city. While this will be similar to the arrangement in suburbs presently, it will go against BEST which serves the island city only."
Of BEST's 10 lakh users, 45 per cent are commercial establishments and the rest residential. Open access will take away high-end users from BEST, forcing the undertaking to raise supply charges for residential units.