The National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers, a platform of all major federations of power sector employees and engineers in the country, has threatened to embark on a nationwide agitation on February 21st to protest against the Centre’s policy of favoring private sector companies and plans to further privatize the power sector.
In a meeting held on January 30th in New Delhi, the NCCOEEE deliberated on the Electricity Act 2003 and concluded that the Act had failed to achieve the objective of affordable and adequate power to all.
A resolution passed in the meeting of the umbrella body said that while privatization in the distribution sector had failed, de-licensing of generation was resulting in unscrupulous companies exploiting consumers for undue profits.
“Privatization of distribution, introducing of distribution franchises and setting up of power plants in the private sector has resulted in widespread corruption which has adversely impacted the power consumers,” the resolution said, adding that one of the major causes of high and unaffordable tariffs was unchecked profits earned by the private sector in generation as well as distribution.
The resolution passed by the NCCOEEE called for CAG audit of private sector distribution companies, distribution franchisees and private sector generation companies on the ground that the high tariffs directly impacted consumers. It specifically demanded CAG audit of Reliance, Adani, JP, Tata, Lanco and Torrent.
Pointing out that there were serious flaws in the Electricity Act 2003, the resolution stressed on the need for the Parliament to review it so as to curb the trend of private sector companies engaged in distribution and generation exploiting consumers and making undue profits.
“The experience of past ten years has established that unbundling of SEBs has not succeeded while privatization of distribution, generation and franchisee systems have only added to the profits of the private parties at the cost of the common consumers. There is a need to amend the Act so as to integrate the power sector functioning in state sector and to recombine the unbundled SEBs,” the resolution said.
It was observed in the resolution that the Centre was proposing further amendments to the Electricity Act 2003 to enable the entry of private sector companies as suppliers using the network and common wires system of state distribution companies which was not in public interest.
Demanding the scrapping of the proposed amendment to the Electricity Act 2003 which dealt with segregation of supply from wire business, the resolution called for provisions aimed at integrating the unbundled state electricity boards. It also pointed out that the electricity industry had become a platform for exploitation of workers.
The NCCOEEE resolved that unless the issues concerning the power sector were settled by the government through bipartite talks, the employees in the sector including junior engineers and engineers would resort to a nationwide dharna on February 21st at all district headquarters, state capitals and Delhi. A copy of the resolution passed has been sent to the Prime Minister.