January 10, 2021

Electricity (Amendment) Bill will be Detrimental to the Farmers: NCCOEEE

NATIONAL Co-ordination Committee of Electricity Employees & Engineers (NCCOEEE)-a broad-based united platform of all the National Federations of Electricity Employees and Engineers in a press communique issued on December 31, 2020, stated that the Electricity(Amendment) Bill 2020 will be disastrous to the farmer community.

The NCCOEEE also thanked the united forum of struggling peasants, who successfully drew the attention of the people of India to the menacingly drafted Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in addition to the three Agri- laws.

NCCOEEE has stated that it recognises the historic struggle of the farmers against the privatisation of agriculture; it expresses its solidarity with the farmers’ agitation. While deploring the slow and casual manner in which the government is handling the negotiations, the NCCOEEE expects that the government will ensure that the three laws along with the draft Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020 would be withdrawn and the agitation will be concluded to the satisfaction of the farmers and the people of India.

Should the government frustrate the farmers and the farmers give a call for the intensification of the agitation, the electricity employees shall respond with full strength. NCCOEEE draws the attention of the farmers and other consumers that the proposal to privatise the distribution system would replace a public monopoly with a private monopoly. This will effectively lead to the withdrawal of cross-subsidies and other subsidies and consumers would not be able to pay the cost of electricity, thus denying the consumers access to electricity.

NCCOEEE condemns the issue of the ‘standard bidding document’ on the basis of which all states are required to privatise the distribution system. Already, the government of India is moving with full force towards privatisation of the distribution in union territories even bypassing opposition of the government and legislature as in the case of Puducherry.

NCCOEEE calls upon all its constituents to work with the consumers and the general public and enlist their support in the struggle against the privatisation of electricity.

NCCOEEE like to draw the attention of all concerned to paragraph 15 of the Bill as under: “15. In section 61 of the principal Act i) in clause (g), the word ‘progressively’ shall be omitted and for the words ‘specified by the Appropriate Commission’ the words ‘as provided in the Tariff Policy’ shall be substituted.”

The paragraph relates to cross-subsidies, what the original act proposed to eliminate. But the same still exists due to amendment of the act in 2007. Elimination of cross-subsidies will thrust burden upon poor consumers and resultant benefit will be transferred to rich/high-end consumers in the name of tariff equality. This should be kept in mind rigidly.

NCCOEEE vehemently opposes to the object of the bill towards privatisation of electricity distribution network, developed at the cost of public exchequer. The NCCOEEE firmly vows to oppose the policy of the government towards cost to public and profit to private.

All NCCOEEE constituents in the country will intensify their struggle in the days forthcoming to compel the government to change its policy favouring its cronies and replacing public monopoly with private monopoly in the power sector. NCCOEEE vehemently decry the unlawful role of the government of India towards issuance of ‘standard bidding document’ and the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020, trespassing into the jurisdiction of appropriate ERCs. NCCOEEE urges upon the government of India to put a total hold upon these unlawful and anti-people activities. It calls upon all sections of organisations of employees, engineers, peasants and business communities in medium and small sectors to protect their right to electricity along with poor Indians.