Electricity Amendment Bill 2020: 15 lakh power employees to go on a nation-wide protest
Approximately 15 lakh power sector employees, including engineers, would go on a nationwide protest on Tuesday seeking the withdrawal of Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020 and opposing the move to privatise state-owned power distribution companies (discoms).
Speaking to FE, All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) chairman Shailendra Dubey said the move to privatise discoms was on in union territories (UTs), Purvanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam (Varanasi) and three discoms of Odisha.
“We will observe a protest day on August 18 and seek the withdrawal of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and oppose the privatisation process of electricity distribution in UTs, Purvanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam (Varanasi), three discoms of Odisha. We also seek the cancellation of privatisation of CESU, which has already been handed over to Tata Power in Odisha,” he said, adding that on the call of the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers (NCCOEEE), more than 15 lakh power employees will hold protest meetings and demonstrations across the country against privatisation.
“After strong protests by eleven states and two UTs during the power ministers’ conference held on July 3, Union power minister RK Singh had committed to place a modified draft of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020. But even after more than 45 days, the government of India has not placed any new amended draft on public domain. Moreover, it is going ahead with its plan of privatisation of power distribution companies of UTs such as Puducherry, Chandigarh, J&K and Ladakh. Simultaneously, the Uttar Pradesh government has started the process of privatisation of Purvanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam, while the Odisha government has already handed over Central Electricity Supply Undertaking (CESU) to Tata Power and started the process to privatise three other discoms – NESCO, WESCO & SOUTHCO.” This, he claimed, had created resentment among power employees.
Reiterating its view that privatisation and urban distribution franchisee model had “miserably failed” in Odisha, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Jalgaon, Gaya, Bhagalpur, Agra, Greater Noida, Ujjain, Gwalior, Sagar and other places, the AIPEF said in a statement that the government was now “imposing the same failed model on the states in the name of financial help, which is nothing but blackmail”.
“This is not acceptable and will be vehemently opposed by the power employees and engineers,” Dubey asserted, adding that while the August 18 demonstration would be a peaceful symbolic protest, but if the Centre and the states do not withdraw the privatisation process, the power employees across the country would be forced to resort to “democratic agitation steps”, Dubey said.