Report by KEC correspondent
The central government is planning to introduce and pass the anti-worker and anti-people Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2021 in the monsoon session beginning in July. A statement in this regard was made by the Union Power Minister on 16 June when addressing a conference. He also made a claim that everybody (all ministries, stakeholders) is on board for the amendments to the Electricity Act.
It appears that the Power Minister does not consider over 25 lakh electricity employees and engineers as a stakeholder because they have been opposing the Bill from the day it was proposed. It has been their staunch opposition and threat of strike across the country which has stalled the Bill so far.
The Power Minister also does not seem to consider tens of crores of farmers who have been opposing the Bill, as stakeholder. They were actually promised at the time of the withdrawal of the three farm bills that they would be consulted before the Bill is put up in the parliament. Like all other promises made to farmers, this one too has been forgotten.
Apparently, the only stakeholder the Power Minister and his government is concerned about are big capitalists who are interested in privatisation of electricity distribution as the Bill proposes to ‘delicense’ electricity distribution. State-owned distribution companies (discoms) will be required to make their distribution network available to private distributors for a fee. The Bill thus enables private operators to make profit from electricity distribution without they making any capital investment.
The Bill makes a false claim that it will allow consumers to choose between multiple distributors. This claim has been made only to win the support of consumers for the Bill.
Actually, the private operators will choose consumers who are profitable for them to serve. Private capitalists will not provide electricity to small consumers, farmers and other consumers who are not profitable. The experience of consumers in the city of Mumbai, where already multiple distributors exist, confirms this.
The Bill is thus not only against the interest of power sector workers but the entire working class, farmers and toilers of the country and needs to be staunchly opposed by all.