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1.5 mn power sector employees plan strike on Jan 8 against privatisation

They say amendment to Electricity Act, 2003 will also impact farmers and weaker sections of society

Virendra Singh Rawat  |  Lucknow 

Economic slump, falling electricity demand hit power-generating units

Nearly 1.5 million employees, including engineers, of public sector undertakings in the across the country will observe a one-day strike on January 8 against the proposed amendment to the Electricity Act, 2003.

The employees have alleged the amendment was aimed at facilitating the of power supply in India by segregating carriage and content.

“The decision to amend the Electricity Act, 2003, will adversely affect farmers and weaker sections of society. Therefore, the union power ministry should immediately withdraw the move,” All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) Chairman Shailendra Dubey said on Sunday.

He said electricity employees in all the state power utilities across the country would stage a day-long strike/work boycott on January 8 to oppose the move of the Centre to introduce multiple private supply licences.

The strike/work boycott programme would be held be under the banner of the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers , a broad-based umbrella organisation representing 1.5 million power workers and engineers of the of India.

Earlier, the Federation had termed the draft amendment to the Electricity Act 2003 “very dangerous” since it was aimed at benefitting big power even as Dubey also criticised the Centre for ‘unilaterally’ going ahead with the proposed amendment.

“The prime motive of the proposed Bill is to create scope of business for private enterprises in power distribution without any investment. The power ministry set aside the objections raised by the states and electricity boards to favour private entities,” he underlined.

According to the Federation, the amendments would be a big jolt to farmers and weaker sections as it would end all subsidies, while it would result in a steep hike in power tariff, thereby making it unaffordable even for the middle class.

Dubey warned the proposed Bill would have far-reaching consequences for both, the state governments and consumers. “It proposes a licensee between transformer and point of consumption. Essentially, it would privatise the supply of electricity. The Bill also takes away the purview of state government and regulator by making it mandatory to implement the national tariff policy. This violates the Constitution of India as electricity is a concurrent subject.”

Meanwhile, private would be given separate profitable segments such as the sale of electricity to major industries, commercial establishments, and railways, while moving away from un-remunerative loss-making segments like rural households and agricultural consumers.

The other demands of the power employees include integration of all power utilities in respective states, as had been done in the case of KSEB Limited and HPSEB Limited in Kerala and Himachal Pradesh, respectively, implementation of old-age pension scheme, regularisation of all contract employees and regular recruitment, review of power purchase agreements in interest of common consumers.

Dubey asserted AIPEF would take the people along by apprising them of the dire consequences of the amendments to the Electricity Act.

First Published: Sun, December 15 2019. 15:53 IST