Blackout for hours is an everyday experience for people living in Mumbra. The demand for more electricity leads to the load shedding in order to balance the equation of the power allotted and the power consumed.
Load shedding is carried out according to the load curve. This is divided into two parts, “Peak Load” and “Base Load”. If the amount of power generated is less than the total load during peak hour, then the electricity supplier cuts the base load supply to some regions in order to adjust the supply. Residents in Mumbra have to deal with sudden power cuts through the day as there is no declared timing for load shedding shared by Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd (MSEDCL).
According to an official of MSEDC, power theft is the reason for load shedding in Mumbra. An article in Hindustan Times dated Nov 25, 2018, states that the power thefts in Kalwa and Mumbra leads to 50% loss of revenue for the power company in which the losses in Mumbra are the highest. The total default amount in Thane district is 296 crore in which Mumbra has arrears of 73 crore and Kalwa 20 crore.
A walk in Mumbra’s lanes show electricity boxes, transformer cabins dangerously exposed to the
general public, allowing electricians to exploit them to provide free electricity for a small fee. The exposed lines that run overhead are used by the locals as they just hang the copper wires over those lines and steal the power for their usage.
Even after such blackouts, some residents complain that their electricity bill is too high, running into thousands of rupees a month. Some pay the bill while others do not. The meter of those who don’t pay the bill is removed. These residents then call their electrician who charges around Rs 50-60 and connects their line to the main electricity supply. As a result, these residents use the power without paying for it.
A resident from Rashid Compound aged 60 said, “I visit the MSEB (Maharashtra State Electricty Board) office every month to lower the amount on my bill, but the officials don’t take any action. We stand for hours in queues requesting a solution for our problems, but there haven’t found one yet. The bill comes high no matter what we do. The staff isn’t punctual and our complaints are taken lightly. The meters are called faulty and we are charged. If someone from the office visits to check the meter, he can’t even take the reading properly. I am tired of paying such large sums of money every month; I cannot afford to pay such high bills.”
Overhead lines and open cables possess a threat to the people in the locality and put their life on risk. The cables lay on the ground which is not fully covered and can burst at any possible time causing injuries to the people around it can also result in someone’s death. The red box that is present in every area is easily accessible for the Electricians and wireman which results in power thefts and the can also lead to unwanted tragedies.
What can be the solution?
One of the measures that MSEDCL can undertake is to start the work of laying the cables underground as it will reduce the amount of power theft and will also reduce the risk of people getting injured from those overhead lines and open cables.
People also need to take the responsibility of informing the officials about the power thefts that they see in the locality. They can visit the website (https://www.mahadiscom.in/centralized-customer-care/) to file their complaints.
People who complaints about high electricity can visit the website (https://www.mahadiscom.in/centralized-customer-care/) where they can check how much electricity they have consumed and pay the bill accordingly.
MSEDCL should set up a grievance redresal counter to address people’s complaints of inflated bills.
MSEDCL should put out a public notice on load shedding duration and reasons. A public hearing with officials will help residents and MSEDCL officials understand each other and resolve the issue of load shedding in Mumbra. Our elected represenatives should take the lead in arranging for such a hearing.