A decade after the erstwhile Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) was unbundled into holding, generation, transmission and distribution companies, the state government plans to further divide the distribution utility into region-wise distribution entities.
The proposal, which is on the lines of the system in states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, will ensure efficiency and streamline administration, claimed the energy minister Chandrashekhar Bavankule.
"We are examining the proposal and a final decision will be taken soon," Bavankule told dna, adding that the plan was to hive off the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MahaVitaran) into smaller companies handling power distribution for the Konkan, Vidarbha, North Maharashtra, Marathwada, Western Maharashtra and Mumbai regions.
The MahaVitaran supplies electricity to some areas in Mumbai's eastern suburbs like Mulund and Bhandup and also to Thane.
Bavankule said that his advisor Vishwas Pathak and MahaVitaran managing director O.P Gupta had visited Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat to assess the benefits from such a split and a final report was expected soon.
While Rajasthan has three regional electricity distribution companies namely, Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd, Ajmer Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd and Jodhpur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd, in Gujarat, the distribution network has been split up among four distribution companies, which cater to the northern, central, southern, and western parts of the state respectively. These companies have been structured as subsidiaries of a holding company, Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (GUVNL).
In Madhya Pradesh, the power distribution has been hived off to three regional companies.
The MSEB was restructured into four companies namely, the MSEB Holding Company, MahaVitaran, Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (MahaGenco) and Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Company (MahaTransco) in 2005. This was done after the enactment of the Electricity Act, 2003.
The MahaVitaran supplies electricity to an around 2.20 crore consumers across all categories in Maharashtra.
"In a large geographical area, management and control is difficult," noted power sector consumer activist Pratap Hogade, adding that these plans to divide the MahaVitaran into smaller, regional entities would enable ease of management, reduce losses if sincere efforts were made and also bring down costs of power. He, however, stressed on the need to change the utility's work culture. "The (MSEB) was made into a company only in name, the government babu culture continues as it is. The harassment of consumers goes on unabated unlike in other places where the consumer is the king," said Hogade.
The MahaVitaran has managed to reduce its distribution losses from a huge 31.72% in 2005-6 to 29.50% in 2006-7 and 24.09% in 2007-8. In 2014-15, the distribution losses are estimated at 14%, the same as the previous financial year. In 2012-13 and 2011-12, these losses stood at a higher 14.67% and 16.03%.