A power sector engineers’ body has asked the government to not introduce the electricity (amendment) bill in the upcoming Monsoon session of Parliament “in haste” and to hold discussions with all the stakeholders on the proposed law.
All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) in a letter to Union Power Minister R K Singh has demanded that the recently-released Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022, should not be introduced in the Monsoon session in haste and should be discussed in detail with power consumers, electricity sector workers and other stakeholders, a statement said.
The federation has also sent a letter to chief ministers of all the states and Union territories, urging them to take effective intervention to stop the amendment bill, the statement said.
A meeting of the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers has been called in Delhi on July 20, in which a decision on a nationwide movement against this bill will be taken, it stated.
The Union power minister last month said that everybody (all ministries, and stakeholders) was on board with the amendments to the Electricity Act and the ministry should be able to take it forward to Parliament in the monsoon session.
The Monsoon session of Parliament is likely to begin on July 18.
The bill provides for de-licensing of the distribution business to promote competition, the appointment of a member from a law background in every commission, strengthening of Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL), and prescribes rights and duties of consumers.
In the letter sent to the Union power minister, AIPEF Chairman Shailendra Dubey has stated that the draft Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022, issued a few days ago, is incomplete and insufficient to amend the Electricity Act, 2003.
He wrote that this Amendment Bill has not yet been placed on the website of the Ministry of Power, this does not contain the Statement of Objects & reasons to amend the Electricity Act, 2003 and neither comments have been sought nor any time has been given for comments from the stakeholders.
He stated that when the Electricity Act, 2003, was enacted, the Electricity Bill, 2001, was sent to the Standing Committee on Power Affairs of Parliament and long talks were held for two years with all the stakeholders.
Now if any amendment is required in the Electricity Act, 2003, then the same method should be adopted, he suggested.
There should be complete transparency, comments should be sought from all, discussions should be held with all and it should not be passed in haste by placing in Parliament on just a few days of notice as this amendment has far-reaching effects on electricity consumers and electricity workers, he submitted.
He further said that as far as giving a choice of power supply to the consumer is concerned, this is a complete hoax. In fact, this bill will give a choice not to consumers but to the private electricity supplying companies, he claimed.
There is a provision in the bill that only a government company will have a universal power supply obligation which means only state-run discoms will provide electricity to all categories of consumers, he stated.
Naturally, private companies will supply electricity only to profitable industrial and commercial consumers, and government distribution companies will go into further losses due to providing electricity to farmers and common consumers at below cost and thus government discoms by default will become loss-making companies, he said.
According to this bill, private companies will use the network of government discoms, and the expenditure of operation and maintenance and capacity addition will also be borne by state-run discoms, he pointed out.
He said government discoms have already spent billions or trillions of rupees in making this network and thousands of crores of rupees are being spent by them on the maintenance.
Allowing private companies to use this network by charging only wheeling charges is totally unjust and it is a draft of privatization of entire power distribution which will be strongly opposed by the power workers, he stated.
He said that this experiment is already underway in Mumbai where Adani Power and Tata Power supply electricity in the same area. Tata Power uses Adani Power’s network.
This has led to various legal disputes and the consumers have not got any relief from this, he claimed.
Domestic consumers in Mumbai pay electricity tariff in the range of Rs 12 per unit to Rs 14 per unit which is the highest in the country, he submitted.
Now imposing this experiment on the whole country is a fraud with the common consumers, he opined.
He further said that when private companies supply electricity using the network of government discoms, then billions of rupees ae spent on the energy accounting software to be made for this.
This was used in the UK, where such software cost GBP 850 billion 10 years ago, and this cost was collected from consumers, he stated.
The central government should clarify that if this experiment will be done in India, and the expenditure of billions of rupees would be passed on to the common consumers while private companies earn huge profits, then what will be the benefit of the common consumers, he asked.
This has also become important because the burden of imported coal has now been passed on to the discoms which will ultimately be recovered from the common consumers, he stated.
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