Workers Oppose Power Bill; To Go On Country-Wide Strike on Dec 7
A NATIONAL Convention organised by the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers (NCCOEEE) has called for a nation-wide strike on December 7 to oppose the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2014. The Bill curbs the right to electricity for poor people of the country. The convention was held at Ghalib Institute Auditorium in Delhi on June 8 and had participants from all corners of the country.
The NCCOEEE exposed the hidden object of the Bill to widen the scope of business for private enterprises without any investment. According to the NCCOEEE, the consequence of the enactment of the Bill will boost the cost of supply to sky levels. “It is very much pertinent to note the plea cited by the government to enact Electricity Act, 2003 was inefficiency and accumulation of huge losses by state electricity boards,” the press release read.
The power workers pointed that the total accumulated loss after five decades of service by the State Electricity Boards was Rs 26,000 crore and that it is only after 20 years of market-driven commercial service of all DISCOMS that the total accumulated loss and debt burden had touched the Rs One Million Crore mark, even after multiple tariff hikes. It also sought an explanation from the government of India, on the reasons for failing to keep their assurance of cheaper power for all through efficiency boosting and competition among private entrepreneurs with the implementation of Electricity Act, 2003.
The convention demanded that the Bill should not be introduced in the parliament without holding a prior discussion with the representatives of organisations of electricity employees and engineers to redress the issues raised by them.
It was also resolved that all NCCOEEE constituents in the states will organise mass rallies and mobilise consumers, employees, and engineers and explain the adverse implications of the Bill. A formal notice of strike will be issued on October 26. The power employees also mentioned that the date of strike might be pre-poned into a flash strike in case the government attempts to pass the Bill earlier.
The NCCOEEE also demanded integration of all power utilities in states into one entity as has been done in Kerala and Himachal Pradesh where Kerala State Electricity Board Limited and Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Limited were constituted respectively for smooth functioning. The NCCOEEE, in the declaration, sought old pension scheme for all power employees and engineers.
Tapan Sen, general secretary, CITU, while supporting the draft, greeted NCCOEEE for their efforts to protect the interests of the consumers and opposing the exploitation of casual and contract workers in the power sector.
A copy of the declaration will be submitted to prime minister, power and labour ministers along with the chief ministers of all the states, said the NCCOEEE national centre, read the press release. All NCCOEEE state chapters will send a copy of the declaration to the chief minister, power minister and labour ministers of their respective states, indicating their support to the declaration.
Amarjeet Kaur, general secretary, AITUC extended complete support to the demands and the plan of action proposed. Satyaban (AIUTUC), Kuldip Kumar (INEWF) representing INTUC declared their support as well.
Various constitutes of the umbrella organisation ,NCCOEEE, including All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF), All India Federation of Power Diploma Engineers (AIFOPDE), Electricity Employees Federation of India (EEFI), All India Federation of Electricity Employees (AIFEE), Indian National Electricity Employees Federation (INEEF) and All India Power Men Federation (AIPF) and Tamil Nadu Electricity Board Workers' Progressive Union (TNEBWPU), extended their support to the declaration.
Leaders of NCCOEEE constituent organisations namely Ratnakar Rao (AIPEF), Subhas Lamba (EEFI), Mohan Sharma (AIFEE), GK Vaishnav (AIFOPDE), Samar Sinha (AIPF), S Rathina Sabhapathy (TNEPWF) and Padamjeet Singh (AIPEF) vowed to make the struggle successful.
Presidium to conduct the convention was formed comprising senior leaders of the NCCOEEE constituent organisations namely KO Habeeb, AN Rajan, Shailendra Dubey, SM Singh, S Rathina Sabhapathy and Narendra Vadoria. Prasanta N Chowdhury, convener of NCCOEEE placed the draft declaration seeking support from the participants.
Lurking Dangers of Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2014
Implementation of the bill
- Allows segregation of the distribution of power into carriage, the distribution network carrying the electricity to consumers, and supply, the sale of electricity to consumers.
- Allows private competitors to poach only on profitable segments like the sale of electricity to major industries, commercial establishments and railways
- Relieves private competitors from bearing the burden of non-remunerative and loss-making segments like rural households and agricultural consumers
Public at the receiving end
The implementation of the bill can lead to a situation where consumers will either have to pay higher prices for electricity supply or suffer from an erratic supply. In effect, if passed, the legislation would lead to the nationalisation of losses and privatisation of profits