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MSEDCL MD complains to self, asks MERC to take cognizance

According to reports, can a person complain to himself against another person and then use this complaint to ask a statutory body to look into grievances? Well this is possible in government. AjoyMehta, who holds the posts of principal secretary (energy) as well as managing director of MSEDCL, wrote a letter in former capacity to himself in latter. He then asked Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) as principal secretary (energy) to take cognizance of this letter.

Mehta stated in the letter that the government felt MERC should not formulate any policy regarding open access, wind energy purchase and competitive bidding for power purchase without holding discussions with government. MSEDCL has been at loggerheads with MERC on this issues. MERC chairman VP Raja has not taken kindly to the letter and has posted it on MERC’s website. He has also asked Commission’s consumer representatives to submit their opinion in this regard.

Going strictly by the law, there is nothing wrong with Mehta’s letter. However, the consumer representatives have pointed out that MSEDCL MD is a petitioner before the MERC and if the same person issues directives to the Commission in another capacity it will be a travesty of justice. There have been regular showdowns between Mehta on the one hand and MERC and its consumer representatives on the other in the last two years.

MSEDCL officials say the consumer representatives were unnecessarily making an issue out of the letter. “Mehta in his capacity as principal secretary has merely asked MERC to consider government’s viewpoint before taking a decision on some important issues that will have long term impact on consumers. What is wrong with that? MERC chairman Raja is slated to retire on September 5. Why is he in a hurry to rush through important decisions,” a senior official said.

However, power consumer activist Pratap Hogade, charged Mehta’s action was against principles of natural justice. He also said an officer should not hold two posts simultaneously. “Mehta should have ideally taken the permission of the cabinet or at least deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, who holds the energy portfolio. A person can’t be a subordinate and boss of another simultaneously,” he said.

Hogade further said the jurisdiction of principal secretary (energy) extended over all power companies in the state, be it distribution, transmission or generation. “However, MSEDCL MD’s sphere is only his company. If the principal secretary and the MD are the same person, he or she is bound to favour the company,” he claimed.

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