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Power Engineers, Employees Hold Conventions Against Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2021

Power employees held a convention in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency in Varanasi and submitted a memorandum in his office.

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The All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) on Thursday said electrical engineers and employees have held state-level conventions to protest against the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

'State-level conventions were held on Thursday in different states by power sector engineers and employees to protest against the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2021, and the indifferent attitude of the central government towards them,' AIPEF said in a statement.

Power employees held a convention in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency in Varanasi and submitted a memorandum in his office.

The conventions were also held in Bengaluru, Trichi, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, and other state utility headquarters.

In the statement, AIPEF spokesperson V K Gupta said a four-member delegation of the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers led by convener Prashanta Chaudhary met Power Secretary Alok Kumar on Tuesday and handed over a memorandum against the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

AIPEF Secretary General Rathnakar Rao was also a member of the delegation.

The delegation asked the power secretary why the employees and consumers are not being treated as stakeholders and the government is moving unilaterally without discussion with them.

The power secretary said the concerns of organisations have already been considered, and the government does not want to proceed further through consultations and talks. This has left power sector engineers and employees with no choice other than to vehemently oppose their endeavours to privatise the electricity distribution, it stated.

Gupta said that now, it is Parliament's responsibility to carefully deliberate on the Bill whenever presented before it and a detailed scrutiny process by the standing committee on energy should be allowed.

The Bill passed in a hurry may fail to achieve its intended outcomes.

The proposed reform is counterproductive and would lead to denial of electricity to underprivileged and increase in tariff for domestic and agriculture consumers, benefitting only a few privileged sections of society, it stated.

Electricity is on the concurrent list and the states have played a dominant role in electrification. The Modi government is trying to tilt this delicate balance of authority when it comes to the draft Electricity Amendment Bill, 2021, it added.

The Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2021 seeks to de-license power distribution to reduce entry barriers for private players in the name of creating competition, it alleged.

In Mumbai, two private companies Adani and Tata supply power to the city. Both companies have their own generating stations and still the tariff in Mumbai is one of the highest in the country, it said.

The study carried out by Prayas (energy) group Pune shows that the results of operationalisation of parallel licensing in Mumbai has been contrary to the expectation, as it has taken place with a series of unnecessary litigations, skyrocketing expenses, steep consumer tariffs, and regulatory failure.

This exposes how competition has failed in Mumbai and how consumers have suffered, it stated.

The power engineers and employees are not against reforms in the power sector. However, reforms don't mean that the the power sector will have to be privatised. They demand to go for all-round development in the power sector while keeping its public sector characteristics intact, it added. 

(PTI)