Report by the Correspondent of the Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC)
The relentless efforts by the government to privatise electricity continue despite the expressed opposition by lakhs of electricity workers all over the country as well as by several people’s organisations. The Electricity Regulatory Commission (ERC) of Maharashtra has issued a draft in which it is stated that henceforth any electricity transmission project in the state having an investment of more than Rs. 200 crore would be implemented only after competitive bidding. The company with the lowest bid would be granted the tender. These guidelines have been published in accordance with the notice issued by the central government.
At first sight it may seem beneficial to consumers. It is claimed that due to competitive bidding, costs of the transmission projects could be reduced by about 30% and that this would reduce the burden on consumers.
As usual, this claim is only meant to fool the people. It is no secret that private companies submit low bids, but then increase the rates charged to consumers on one pretext or another. The experience of people in Mumbai city shows that privatisation of generation, transmission and distribution has not led to cheaper electricity. On the contrary, residents of Mumbai are paying one of the highest rates for electricity in the country to Tata and Adani who monopolise the generation and distribution in the city.
The other bigger danger is that private companies would get entry into areas coming under state transmission companies like Mahapaareshan (Also known as Mahatransco) which would slowly lead to its death.
Till date the Kharghar –Vikhroli 400 KV transmission project has already been given via the proses of competitive bidding. The Rs. 7000 crores worth Aarey – Kudus transmission project was already gifted last year to Adani without competitive bidding, and has been challenged by other private companies in the Supreme Court.
Out of the 135 completed or ongoing transmission projects in Maharashtra, 26 involve costs of more than Rs. 200 crores and thus the new guidelines, if implemented put them in risk of being privatised. The new guidelines are nothing but an indirect step towards privatisation of the power transmission segment. Consumers should not get fooled by the claim that it is in their interest.