People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXX

No. 12

March 19, 2006

Review Electricity Act 2003

Electricity Employees March To Parliament

 

NEARLY 10,000 electricity employees, representing almost all the states of India, assembled at Tagore road near Ram Lila maidan and marched to parliament on March 1, 2006 under the banner of National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees & Engineers (NCCOEEE), demanding the review of Electricity Act 2003. The march was stopped by the police at Jantar Mantar, where the rally turned into a public meeting, which adopted a resolution.

 

The resolution was moved by E Balanandan, president of Electricity Employees Federation of India and Akthar Hussain, president of Akhil Bharateeya Vidyuth Mazdoor Sangh, Sailendra Dubey, general secretary of All India Power Engineers Federation, H N Mishra, general secretary of All India Power Diploma Engineers Federation, B S Meel, convenor of NCCOEEE, spoke in the meeting supporting the resolution, which was passed unanimously. The public meeting was chaired by A B Bardhan, president of All India Federation of Electricity Employees.

 

The leaders in their speeches pointed out that there was a written understanding between the leaders of NCCOEEE and the minister for power on May 17, 2005 that the Act will be reviewed based on the experience of power sector reforms for the last one and half decade. Other issues on which consensus was reached were:

 

1) The provision for cross subsidy will be maintained

2) The responsibility of rural electrification, including its maintenance will be under the responsibility of the centre and state governments.

 

The power ministry had also agreed to move an amendment bill in this regard in the parliament. However, the amendment bill now before the parliament has certain restrictions which suit privatisation of distribution. As far as the review of the Act is concerned, of late, the government has intimated that the review is being carried out by Indian Institute of Public Administration and the interim report of the expertsí committee (constituted by NCCOEEE) submitted to the prime minister is also before IIPA.

 

The above agreement was the outcome of the discussion between the then power minister late P M Sayeed and NCCOEEE leaders at the verge of the two-day nationwide strike declared by NCCOEEE on May 31 and June 1, 2005. The leaders demanded immediate steps to review the Electricity Act 2003.

 

RESOLUTION

 

THE government of India is ignoring to carry out a serious review of the experience of the implementation of Electricity Act 2003 and the Acts enacted in different states, contrary to the understanding reached in black and white between the power minister and the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers. Feeling the mounting neglect in this matter, the national coordination committee itself has constituted a committee of well-known experts in the nation and a study has been conducted on the experience of the power sector reforms for the last one and a half decade The high level committee has brought out an interim report which was submitted to the prime minister and power minister on December 7, 2005. But unfortunately, the government is toeing the very same policy of unbundling and privatisation of the electricity boards and trying to implement the same by hook or crook even against the interest of the state governments, which is crystal clear from the tariff policy, mega power policy and conditionalities of RGGVY and APDRP funding. The interim report of the experts and the latest order of the Orissa state Electricity Regulatory Commission against the private distribution companies reveals the fact that the unbundling and privatisation of Electricity Boards have not helped in any manner in the improvement of power sector, on the contrary it served its deterioration.

 

Taking all aspects into consideration, the electricity employees and engineers under the banner of National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers who marched to the parliament on March 1, 2006, unanimously resolve to appeal to the government of India to start meaningful dialogue with NCCOEEE regarding the review on the experience of unbundling and privatisation of SEBs; immediate stoppage of all further moves to unbundle and privatise the electricity boards and public sector utilities which is also against the spirit of Common Minimum Progamme. Based on the factual experience of unbundled SEBs we also demand for restoration of the Electricity Boards where they existed. If the Minister of Power (GoI) falls to initiate discussion of review of Electricity Act 2003 with NCCOEE with in one month, we will go for direct action. (INN)