October 23, 2022

National Conference of Electricity Employees Calls upon Power Workers to Join ‘Bijili Kranti Yatra’

Sudip Dutta

THE ninth conference of the Electricity Employees’ Federation of India (EEFI) was successfully concluded on October 15, 2022, in Chandigarh. It called upon all the workers of the Power sector to join the Bijlee Kranti Yatra to be held in Delhi on November 23 to save the power sector and save India.

The conference was held in the context of the pan-Indian valiant resistances put up by the electricity workers, engineers and officers against the desperate repeated moves of the Modi led BJP government to pass the Electricity Amendment Bill.

The All Haryana Power Corporations Worker Union (AHPCWU) mobilised all its 60 units and 350 sub-units from all over the state and collected funds only from the electricity employees of different categories in Haryana. It is undoubtedly a reflection of the success that the union has achieved through its movements and struggles.

Working President Swadesh Dev Roye hoisted the flag and welcomed the delegates to the conference. In his speech, he emphasised the historic capability and responsibility of the electricity workers to pose the strongest resistance to the anti-worker, anti-people dispensation. KO Habeeb, president of the federation, could not join the conference due to ill health. 

The guests from fraternal organisations greeted the conference warmly. Tapan Sen, CITU general secretary, greeted the conference and pointed out the paradigm shift in the forms of attacks from the ruling class that is reflected in the National Monetisation Pipeline, the so-called ‘Just Transition’ Electricity Amendment Bill 2022 or the disastrous forms of irregular employments in the name of flexibility. 

General secretary of EEFI, Prasanta Nandi Chowdhury placed the report for discussion. The 223-page conference report consists of the general secretary’s report, activity reports from states and an annexure which was a detailed compilation of many essential and important documents which were rich, in-depth and wide in their content. 

The general secretary’s report covered international and national power sector issues with a detailed record of struggles, of policies like privatisation, liberalisation and their impacts over the electricity sector, the dominant emerging problems of renewable energy and energy transition, technological changes and climate issues, power crisis, the challenges posed by the disastrous onslaught unleashed by the current dispensation on the sector and detailed organisational issues.   

Forty-four delegates representing all the constituent unions of EEFI took part in the discussions that lasted for 500 minutes. The jubilant deliberations from the comrades of J&K attracted rousing applause when they depicted their heroic struggle to save the state discom. The J&K state discom was mischievously pushed for privatisation just after the blatant abrogation of Article 370 was imposed on the state. The citizens of J&K came onto the streets hand-in-hand with electricity workers and resisted the army deployment. 

When more than 12 state governments registered their vehement protest against the amendment of the Electricity Act that was brought in to facilitate further privatisation of state discoms, the shameless Modi government tried to apply the same trick to implement it in practice through their pet union territory administrations. But they got defeated disastrously by the resistance and defiance of the electricity workers with the active participation and mobilisation of people in all union territories, first in J&K, then in Chandigarh and currently in Puducherry.

Another issue of great concern came to the fore through a discussion regarding the latest Market-Based Economic Dispatch (MBED) project, which would affect the states’ jurisdiction. It would implement a ‘One Nation, One Grid, One Frequency, One Price’ policy to facilitate private REs over thermal power to capture the market, enhance the tariff to the market’s interest level and result in private financial monopolisation of the electricity sector. 

The decentralisation of production and centralised control of capital over the market through the instrumentation of the state is the most modern model of the neo-liberal era. It leads to the constitutional, political and ideological attack on the right to electricity and the federal structure of India.

Seventeen resolutions were adopted, including the clarion call of strengthening the workers’-peasants’ unity, struggle against communalism, fight for gender equality, right to employment and against National Education Policy 2020 and struggle against draconian attack on UTs, especially J&K.

The conference elected the national working committee with 60 members and 23 office bearers, with six vacant posts to be filled up in the coming days. E Kareem was elected as president, Prasanta Nandi Chowdhury was re-elected as general secretary and S Rajendran as treasurer of the federation. 

The conference adopted the task to reorient its focus to consolidate and expand the organisation, to uphold and strengthen the unity and struggle of electricity employees under the aegis of NCCOEEE and to ideologically move Indian electricity workers against the ruling authoritarian anti-people BJP governments at the centre and states. 

It discussed and adopted the crucial task of organising the massive number of contract workers working in the electricity sector and planned to make a leap forward to bring them into the fold of organised struggle under the banner of EEFI in a time-bound schedule. 

The conference was attended by 364 delegates from 14 states and four UTs, and 28 guests from fraternal organisations and sectoral constituents of the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees & Engineers (NCCOEEE). Delegates from regular, contract and pensioner category workers from all three segments of electricity services, viz. generation, transmission and distribution, attended the conference. Self critically, the conference discussed the low attendance ratio of women delegates and emphasised improving that.

The decoration of the conference venue was exceptionally exciting. The scale of decoration, with its ideological richness, has energised and motivated the delegates who came from all over India. The decoration was planned and directed by two delegates from West Bengal State Electricity Workmen’s Union, and it was completely an in-house production. Meanwhile, the transportation arrangement for the delegates was organised with the help of more than 40 volunteers who came from nearby districts of Chandigarh.