Power engineers body condemns move to amend National Electricity Policy
According to a statement by the AIPEF, the proposed changes require extensive discussions as such time for submission of comments should be six months.
When fundamental changes are being introduced by way of privatization of the power sector, there is no basis to rush through more so under extreme distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it said.
''All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) condemns the government of India's move to amend the National Electricity Policy to facilitate the privatization of the power sector,'' the statement said.
The body alleged that this is a clear attempt to introduce privatization through the backdoor and deserves to be scrapped.
The purpose of the central government is not to review or revise the existing National Electricity Policy but the total replacement of existing policy with a new policy to be recommended by the expert group so as to achieve privatization, the body alleged. As per Electricity Act 2003, National Electricity Policy is to be prepared in consultation with the state governments and Central Electricity Authority (CEA), a statutory body. However, the body said that the CEA is not included in the proposed schedule of discussion.
Further, only 5 states have been included in an expert group instead of all the states, it added. K Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser, has stated that India is the only country that readily implemented a slew of reforms and used this crisis to herald a change in India's economic thinking, it said.
The strategy of government seems to be “never waste a crisis” and use the crisis of pandemic to streamroll so-called reforms by way of privatizing, it alleged. The draft proposal is of serious nature for which the present situation of a pandemic is a serious constraint, it stated. The Ministry of Power has once again found peak pandemic time as an opportunity in crisis to launch the draft amendments to National Electricity Policy, it lamented.
Once the draft policy is finalised, the notified policy would have the status of “subordinate legislation”, and for this reason, the matters need to deliberate as in the case of the legislation itself or as in the case of amendment in the Act itself, it opined.
The preferred route being suggested are failed models like the franchisee system, transferring distribution responsibility to a private party, and separation of carriage (lines) and content (supply) business, it opined.
Since the existing Policy is in force since February 2005 there was no emergency to totally replace it, while power engineers and workers as front line workers are already stressed in maintaining power continuity, it added.
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