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Electricity workers, engineers to observe 'protest day' on June 1

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 23-05-2020 22:22 IST | Created: 23-05-2020 22:22 IST
Electricity workers, engineers to observe 'protest day' on June 1

Electricity employees and engineers will observe 'protest day' on June 1 to oppose proposed privatisation in the power sector.  "Electricity employees and engineers to observe 'Protest Day' on 1st June, 2020," the All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) stated in a letter to Power Minister R K Singh on Friday.  The federation said it has noted with grave concern that the government proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 towards privatisation of the sector through transferring the asset created with public exchequer inclusive of natural resources to private houses. The AIPEF has strongly opposed the approach of the government ventilated through the proposed "draconian anti-people electricity legislation with clear object of snatching away right of access to electricity from poor section of Indian people and peasants".  The federation said that it is evident that the bill is for ease of making business for the profit monger community and all aspects related to right to electricity for poor people has been set aside.

"We are anguished to note that when whole country is integrally fighting menace of COVID-19, the Ministry of Power is otherwise busy in curbing the people’s right to energy," it said in the letter.     The federation's apex leadership decided to make wider campaign among people of different walks of life to unveil the counterfeit behind the policy of the Government and misleading statement submitted in the paragraphs under 'Objects and Reasons' circulated with the bill.  As part of this campaign, National Protest Day will be observed on 1st June, 2020, it said. All electricity employees and engineers across the country will exercise their democratic right through wearing black badges opposing the bill and urging the people to come forward to retain their constitutional right for access to energy as a member of the civilised country, it added.  Earlier, the power ministry had circulated the draft bill on April 17, 2020 with a deadline to submit comments in three weeks till May 8.

Later in April, the power ministry extended the deadline for submission of stakeholders' comments on the draft Electricity Amendment Bill by four weeks till June 5. Last month, the ministry came out with fourth draft of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill since 2014, which seeks to set up an Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority (ECEA) having power of a civil court to settle disputes related to power purchase agreement between discoms and gencos.

The draft provides that the ECEA will have sole authority to adjudicate matters related to specific performance of contracts related to purchase or sale of power, between power generation companies (gencos) and distribution companies (discoms). The decision of the ECEA can be challenged at the Appellate Tribunal For Electricity (APTEL) and, subsequently, at the Supreme Court.

Currently, state electricity regulatory commissions and Central Electricity Regulatory Commission settle state-level and inter-state PPA disputes, respectively. The AIPEF had strongly condemned the timings of the power ministry''s move to bring back the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020 when the whole country is fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The body was view that the bad experience from the COVID-19 crisis should have led to nationalise all sectors, including power, across India. The ministry had brought first draft in 2014 that was introduced in the Lok Sabha seeking separate carriage and contend electricity distribution business. The Bill could have given option to consumers to change their service providers like they do for their mobile phone service. But, unfortunately, that Bill lapsed after dissolution of the Lok Sabha.The second and third drafts were circulated in 2018 and 2019.

Earlier the AIPEF had also demanded to put the bill on hold..


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