A consumer court here has rapped the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) for its deficient service, and asked it not to disconnect power supply to small scale units at an industrial estate in the city.

It also directed the MSEB to pay the complainants small units Rs.3,000 each towards legal expenses in the case.

The units, situated at Ferrodie Industries in Wagle Estate here, had obtained the plot from Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) in 1980 on 99 years lease.

Later, the plot was given to one Anji Reddy of SS Industries in 2005 for development. He constructed the galas (workshops) on the plot and sold them to these units, the Thane District Consumer Redressal Forum (TDCRF) was informed.

The units later formed the Ferrodie Industrial Premises Co-op Society. They approached MSEB which provided them power on the condition that they get the land transferred in their name and also get an NOC from the MIDC.

Meanwhile, the land was not yet transferred in the name of Reddy as there was an issue of transfer price between him and MIDC.

Reddy, who had collected money (transfer price) from the unit holders, failed to pay the same to MIDC for which the holders filed a civil suit which is still pending.

Later, the MSEB in 2010 snapped the power of the units which remained in dark for about a week.

However, upon an order from the consumer forum that year, the units got a relief and interim stay on the disconnection of power which was restored by the MSEB.

In 2011, the MSEB again issued a notice to the units for power disconnection if they do not get land transfer order and NOC which was challenged by the units before the forum.

The TDCRF examined all the situations and concluded that due to the dispute between Reddy and MIDC over transfer price, the units holders need not suffer.

However, the MSEB came up with an argument that the unit holders were not its consumers, which the consumer forum did not accept, saying that as the MSEB collects power bill from the holders they become its consumers.

For the failure of MIDC not transferring the plot and issuing the NOC, the unit holders need not be held responsible, TDCRF president Sneha Mhatre and members Madhuri Vishwarupe and N D Kadam recently observed.

They also noted that the complainants were units and not individuals, hence compensation for mental suffering cannot be considered.

However, the complainants are eligible for legal expenses the forum said, while observing that the MSEB had illegally given notices for disconnection of power to the units and this amounted to deficiency in services.