I was going thru the BEST website today, and was going thru the Daily Press Notes section, when I came across an interesting press note, dating to 21st February 2015. A very interesting note to say the least.
The Press Note, Numbered 65, on 21/02/15, is an appeal to Consumers of the Electric Department.
It talks of a rumour that has been spreading via Social Media to ask Consumers to check the back of the BEST Electricity Bill, where there is an alleged claim that BEST’s electricity department is charging consumers for losses made by the Transportation Department, and that if you wrote a letter and handed it over at the Head Office at Dadar TT, they would stop charging you.
BEST responded by saying that such rumours were baseless and consumers should not pay any attention to them. Fair enough right?
But, did anyone notice a deeper message?
For starters, this message came at about the same time when BEST made its first mistake. The disastrous fare hike of February 2015. This was followed by an even more disastrous fare hike in April 2015 that left BEST [especially its lacklustre AC services] completely alienated from its passengers. It was during the latter half of 2015, that BEST AC conductors at Thane Station encouraged passengers to take a TMT AC 65 or NMMT AC 131 instead of the AS 700. Even BEST conductors seem to have dissociated themselves from their own buses!
Next, as stated earlier, BESTs Transport Deficit is -₹858.02crore while the Electricity Surplus of ₹925.41crore. This ₹67.39 that is left over, along with some cash from the MCGM, as well other schemes such as JnNURM/AMRUT and from the State Government is what keeps BEST afloat. In the long run, it is true, that the Electricity Division surplus does pay for the deficit, but in a different manner. As per BESTs tariff, there is a Transport Deficit Loss Recovery Charge which is charged as a rate per kilowatt. Doesn’t this actually prove BEST’s notice false? Or was the notice only about getting the surcharge reversed on submitting a letter? Confusing, isn’t it.
But.. But.. But.. There’s something interesting to note here. BEST supplies electricity only to South Bombay. The Suburbs are served by Reliance Energy [formerly BSES], and MahaVitaran [MahaDiscom]. South Bombay is home to Mumbai’s richest people. Actually the country’s richest people.
So, let us take a look at the tariff structure of BEST, Reliance and
Mahavitaran side-by-side, shall we. I’ll be comparing the regular rates for residences under the non BPL category.
BEST: Link to Tariff [Page 3]
Fixed charge goes from ₹40 to 100, the consumption charges vary from ₹2.45 to ₹6.35 per Unit and only goes up to 8 when the consumption is above 500 units, that too for the balance units over and above 500 units.
Reliance Energy: Link to Tariff [Page 1]
Fixed charge goes from ₹50 to ₹100, the consumption charges vary from ₹2.43 to ₹5.57 per Unit and only goes up to 7.21 when the consumption is above 500 units, that too for the balance units over and above 500 units.
MSEDCL: Link to Tariff [Go thru all 381 pages.]
The format used by BEST and REL is not present and hence requires a little thinking and calculation.
While BEST might be charging more per kW/hr or Unit, it charges a minimal Transport Loss Surcharge which does not exceed ₹1.44 per Unit [Below 500 Units]. REL instead charges a fixed wheeling charge of ₹1.8 per Unit and a Regulatory Asset Charge, which ranges from ₹0.56 to 0.89 per Unit [Below 500 Units]. This brings the sum total of Reliance Energy’s charges to higher than BEST. Plus, with all the rich bigwigs and the who’s who of the social circuit living in BEST’s captive territory, does it really matter?
Now, the most important thing in the Press Note:
BEST, in 2015 recognised the existence of Social Media. Yes. They acknowledged that something called Social Media exists. Small, as it may seem, this is a significant step in getting our Government bodies on Social Media to respond to citizens better, as I had stated in an earlier post.
What are your thoughts?
P.S: The head office of the Electricity Department is located at Electric House and the Transport Department at Transport House, both of which are part of the Colaba Depot, which was BEST’s first depot.
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