Political Economy of Electricity Distribution in Maharashtra

By Kalpana Dixit
Regulatory Assistance Project
28 July 2017

The Indian state of Maharashtra is the country’s second largest in terms of population and third largest in terms of geography. It is one of the most industrialized and urban states in India, but its economic development is marked by wide regional disparities. The story of electricity development in Maharashtra is one of a balancing act between industrial interests and the powerful farming class that has produced many of the state’s political leaders. This paper, part of the Mapping Power project, examines how the state in Maharashtra has historically played a mediating role between these conflicting interests. It discusses the impact that two key developments have had on the political management of electricity: the establishment of the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) and the rise of civil society advocacy surrounding the sector. Finally, it looks at the emergence of new interests in the sector in the form of private power producers and the changing scenario in Mumbai, where private utilities dominate the sector.