People's Democracy

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


No. 16

April 21, 2013


Left Parties AP Bandh Call Successful

N S Arjun



THE Andhra Pradesh state bandh called by ten Left parties on April 09 against power tariff hike and irregular supply of power was successful with many parts of the state coming to a standstill. CPI(M) and CPI state secretaries B V Raghavulu and K Narayana thanked the people of the state for conveying their anger against power tariff hike by making the bandh a big success. They also thanked other opposition parties for supporting the bandh. YSRCP, TDP, BJP and Lok Satta had also called for bandh on the same day.


Many schools and colleges had declared holiday on the bandh day in Hyderabad and other major cities. With many auto rickshaw unions supporting the bandh call, there was significant reduction in traffic on roads in Hyderabad.


The day began with protests in front of the central bus station in Hyderabad early in the morning which was participated by the top leaders of Left parties. The police arrested the agitators and lodged them in nearby Afzalgunj police station. Simultaneously leaders and activists of Left parties and other opposition parties came on to the roads across the state and held protests. Road Transport Corporation buses were forced to be confined to the bus depots in many places. In some other places, the buses were operated under police escort.


Significantly, in many districts, traders and shopkeepers downed their shutters voluntarily to convey their protest against power woes. In Srikakulam district, public transport came to a complete halt. In Kakinada, Left and other opposition parties activists came on to the streets in the early hours and held protests, creating a good impact for the bandh. A total of 1200 bus services in Chittoor district were cancelled due to bandh. In Kurnool district 750 services were affected due to bandh. In Warangal district, the police arranged escorts for the buses and ran skeletal services but there were very few passengers in them. All in all, the bandh evoked popular support from the people.


The police slapped serious section s of IPC and remanded various district level leaders of Left parties for participating in bandh activity. In Hyderabad, over 7 Left activists were sent to judicial custody for participating in bandh. The leaders of Left parties condemned the government attempt to clampdown on protests against power tariff hike. They warned that the Left parties will not be cowed down in the face of such police excesses and that they would further intensify the agitation in the coming days.




The Left parties through pamphlets, media conference have put forth their take on the actual reasons for the current situation of crisis in the power sector. They have debunked government’s attempts to use this crisis to further burden the common people and at the same benefit the private power companies. 


One of the immediate causes of the crisis has been the stark failure of both the central and state governments in ensuring supply of natural gas from D6 fields of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) in KG basin. Added to this has been the governments failure in supplying indigenous coal as per allocations made by it to the power projects in the state, causing nearly 3000 MW of installed capacity in the state to be stranded.  As a result, the projects are being forced to use costly alternate fuels like RLNG and naphtha and imported coal, resulting in hefty hike in cost of power purchases running into a few thousand crores of rupees. The way the central government is allowing fixation of prices of natural gas and indigenous coal upwards, totally unrelated to prudent capital and operational costs and reasonable profits, is also imposing heavy burden on the consumers in the form of variable costs. Both the central and state governments have systematically hampered the progress of proposed and ongoing projects of AP Genco by not making budgetary allocation for equity and by not allocating required natural gas and coal, underlined the Left parties.  They pointed out how at the same time these governments have pampered private merchant power projects indiscriminately with an installed capacity ranging up to 60,000 MW by allotting land, fuels and doling out several other concessions to them, unmindful of the danger posed by them to environment and livelihood of the local farmers and other people. The struggles of the local people against some of these merchant power plants are being ruthlessly suppressed by the state government through its police force, killing two people in Kakarapally and another three people in Sompet in Srikakulam district in the past few years.


It is important to note that after the historic people’s struggle against power tariff hike to the tune of about Rs 815 crore in the year 2000-01 -- in which three youths were killed in police firing at Basheerbagh, several others injured and about 25,000 people were arrested all over the state --  there has been no tariff hike for almost eight years thereafter.  It is only for the last three years that power tariffs have been continuously increased, with the hike in the current financial year being to the tune of Rs 11,843 crore. Added to this has been the fuel surcharge adjustment burdens for the last four and a half years to the tune of Rs 11,649 crore have been recovered from more than 2 crore consumers of power in Andhra Pradesh. And the danger of this spree continuing is looming large, in the face of the adamant insistence of the central and state governments to continue their neo-liberal policy approaches. They are taking steps to increase cost of power purchase and impose the resultant additional burdens on the consumers by forcing the Discoms to purchase high cost power from wind and solar power units. The governments are not providing necessary support for timely implementation of the new proposed projects in the public sector with an installed capacity of about 23,000 MW with whom the Discoms had already entered into PPAs. Having thrown the Discoms into financial crisis, the state government is reported to have signed an MOU with the GOI for a financial restructuring of the Discoms, agreeing to the terms and conditions imposed by the centre to gradually privatise the distribution system. It is against this background, ten Left parties are conducting a movement against these burdens and putting forth constructive suggestions for a pro-people alternate power policy, with other opposition parties following suit in their own way.