Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut on Friday the previous BJP-led government in the state for the inflated electricity bill arrears and said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has ordered a probe into the state- run power company's dues.
"By the end of March 2014, the pending electricity dues in the state were Rs 14,154.5 crore, which has gone up to Rs 59,149.8 crore," he said, blaming the erstwhile BJP government for it.
The BJP was in power in Maharashtra from October 2014 to 2019 and the energy department was held by the party.
"The issue of pending electricity bills came up for discussion during the Maharashtra cabinet meeting and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ji has ordered a probe into it. We will definitely probe it," he said.
With consumers complaining of getting inflated electricity bills during the pandemic, opposition parties in Maharashtra have demanded that the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government grant concessions in payment.
Raut refuted the BJP''s claims that the companies of the energy department performed well under the previous Devendra Fadnavis government.
"The profits of the companies gradually decreased under their watch," he alleged.
Asked about the BJP''s protest on the issue of inflated electricity bills, Raut said he will be happy if the party demonstrates against the Centre, which has allegedly not shared Maharashtra''s GST share of Rs 28,000 crore.
Raut said the energy department had sought Rs 10,000 crore subsidy from the Centre, but has not received any response so far.
The minister further said that he is firm on his statement that free electricity should be provided to residential users, whose monthly consumption is up to 100 units.
Raut said he had formed a committee to look into the idea, but the panel could not meet due to the COVID-19 situation.
"But after the COVID-19 crisis gets over and the sins of the BJP (of pending electricity dues) are washed, I will definitely work on the proposal. You will see me working on it," he added.