Power sector employees, enggs protest against privatization

PDD employees staging protest against privatisation move of Govt in Jammu on Thursday. — Excelsior/ Rakesh
PDD employees staging protest against privatisation move of Govt in Jammu on Thursday. — Excelsior/ Rakesh

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Nov 26: Power sector employees including engineers, today held nationwide protests, seeking the withdrawal of Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020, scraping of standard bidding document (SBD) and opposed the privatization of power distribution companies (Discoms) in states and union territories.
All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) organised protest demonstrations in Jammu, Srinagar, Leh and other places under the banner of J&K Power Engineers and Employees Coordination Committee. The protest meetings were held in all the states and union territories across the country.
A spokesman of the Federation said that the government is hell-bent on creating private monopolies, in the power sector with the sole motive of helping corporate houses. He said the SBD document proposes Discoms in all the states and union territories to undertake privatization. The state government will provide subsidised bulk power for the successor entity for making it an independently financially viable entity.
He further said that the assets of Discoms will be leased on a token payment. The federation opposes the proposed transfer of public assets to the private sector as this will result in a high tariff for the consumers.
Sachin Tikoo, general secretary J&K Electrical Engineering Graduates Association demanded to withdraw the process of privatization of electricity from the public sector to a private company in states and union territories and cancel all existing privatization and franchises in the power sector.
He alleged that Central Government was grossly misleading the public by saying that the electricity will be cheaper after privatization. The private Discoms are allowed to take a minimum of 16 percent profit, which would increase the power tariff to almost Rs 10 per unit for consumers.
“The government was looking at abolishing the subsidy and cross-subsidy in the supply of electricity, which would make the commodity more expensive for the general consumer categories and cheaper for industrial consumers,” he added.
The provisions in the draft Amendment Bill to allow private franchisees or sub-licensee will only lead to cherry-picking of remunerative areas affecting the financial viability of the Discoms. It may be mentioned that the privatization and urban distribution franchisee model has miserably failed in all the places.
Regarding direct benefit to consumers of the subsidy the amount, the state governments must have the freedom to adopt payment of subsidy as per their requirements. Privatization of Electricity Discom in UT Chandigarh has been opposed by the consumers and resident welfare associations as well as political parties, he added.
Many senior members of various Unions, including Jaipal Sharma, Sanjeev Bali, Munshi Majid Ali, Anil Slathia, Tarun Gupta, Kulbir Singh, Balbir Singh, Jasbir Singh, Parshotam Kumar and others were leading the protests.