Power engineers and employees on Wednesday staged a nationwide protest against privatisation policies of the central government and demanded to scrap the process to privatise discoms in states and Union territories.
"Power engineers and employees observed nationwide protest against privatisation policies of the government of India and demanded the withdrawal process of privatisation of electricity from the public sector to private companies in states and Union territories without further delay," All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) spokesperson V K Gupta said.
Thousands of power sector employees and engineers under the banner of the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers held protest meetings, seeking withdrawal of Electricity Amendment Bill 2021, which has been listed for introduction in the budget session of Parliament, according to a statement by AIPEF.
"We do not now know what amendments have been introduced in the original draft bill 2020," Gupta said.
In a rally in Chandigarh, AIPEF Chairman Shailendra Dubey said the Chandigarh electricity department is the best-managed power department and is making profit for the last five years and there is no justification for privatising the same since it has low losses, low tariff, and good consumer service.
The privatisation move has been started to benefit a few industrialists of the country, he alleged.
Padamjit Singh Chief Patron AIPEF said the finance minister in her budget speech mentioned that there will be competition in power distribution.
In the case of Chandigarh privatisation proposal, there is 100 per cent sale of the electricity department, then where will be the competition, he quipped.
Gupta said the government is simply privatising the power sector at the cost of the state sector in the name of reforms.
The last three decades of market-oriented power sector reforms have exposed the inefficiency of the central government's reform programme, he added.
The present set of reforms is nothing but a desperate attempt by the government to cover up the policy miscalculations of the past decades, while simultaneously protecting the interests of private power generators at the cost of state distribution companies, AIPEF said.
The protesting engineers and employees demanded scrapping of electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and standard bidding document for total privatisation of distribution of electricity.
"The draft Electricity (Amendment) Bill in its current form is unacceptable. The proposed reforms should be discussed with engineers and employees to see whether they will address challenges or aggravate them," Gupta said in the statement.
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