Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Tuesday directed the state power department to not disconnect the electricity supply of farmers and local residents who fail to pay their bills, until further orders.
The directives were issued in the backdrop of rising unrest among farmers and consumers from low-income groups who were either served notices for non-payment of bills or whose electricity connections were disconnected.
The BJP had raised the issue in the state Legislative Assembly and Council on Tuesday and threatened to intensify its street agitation if the government did not withdraw the order.
Pawar told the Assembly,”Till the discussion on electricity bills and agriculture pump dues is concluded in the Budget session, the power department should not take any further action. Power connections should not be disconnected.”
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Devendra Fadnavis said that till now, power connections of 3.5 lakh farmers have been disconnected and they are unable to operate agriculture pumps to irrigate their fields. Further, more than 75 lakh residents have been served notices threatening the disconnection of power supply, he said.
Urging the government to restore connections, the BJP leader said, “Small and marginal farmers are in a financial crisis and expecting them to make payment without providing any financial relief is illogical. Moreover, small traders and businesses were badly hit due to the lockdown. Power disconnections would further push these units in the doldrums.”
Earlier, BJP general secretary and former power minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule had urged the government to provide free power till 100 units and waive off bills for consumers using between 100 to 300 units, which would benefit over two crore people. The government should make a Budget provision of Rs 5,000 crore for the same, he had said.