The Andhra Pradesh Power Employees’ Joint Action Committee (JAC) and APSEB Engineers’ Association (APSEBEA) are opposing Centre’s proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020, alleging that its very purpose is to change the basic objective from ‘public service’ to ‘private profits’ and it will result in private monopolies.
Besides, the employees are apprehensive that the States will be dependent on the Central government for subsidies and no longer have a role in the appointment of State Electricity Regulatory Commissions.
The employees are saying that the Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority proposed in the said Bill is intended to protect commercial interests of the private investors and it leaves little scope for State governments to renegotiate and bring down the cost of electricity.
JAC Chairman P. Chandrasekhar and APSEBEA President M. Vedyavyasa Rao told The Hindu that the draft Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 also contemplated privatizing the distribution and transmission companies through the franchise route to the detriment of consumers, especially farmers and marginal sections for whom electricity would become unaffordable.
There are many other compelling reasons for the Ministry of Power to give up the proposed amendments, the JAC and APSEBEA said, appealing to Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy to oppose the Bill if the State is not to remain a mute spectator as the Centre seeks to implement the controversial legislation.
They highlighted the issues in a letter to Energy Secretary N. Srikant and requested him to put across their views to the Centre.
In the statement of objects and reasons for the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Centre justified the need to revamp the electricity laws by pointing out that there are some critical issues which weakened the commercial and investment activities in the sector and they needed to be sorted out to ensure sustainable growth of the country. The Centre insisted that a few provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003 are unable to cope with the rapid developments in the electricity sector, hence the move to overhaul the entire system.