Scrap the anti-people disastrous Electricity Act 2003 and Electricity Amendment Bill 2021 – with this legitimate demand, the All India Electricity Consumers’ Association (AIECA), a people’s struggle committee, held a central demonstration and rally at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, on 11 April. A protest deputation was led to the Union power minister. A few hundred representatives from altogether 15 states participated in the programme. Shri Ramesh Parashar, Executive President of AIECA, chaired the meeting.
Shri Samar Sinha, General Secretary, AIECA, urged for building up a sustained powerful movement throughout the country against all-out privatization of power sector by forming consumers’ committees right from grassroots level.
A leader of the Sanjukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) which is leading the historic peasant movement, in his speech, expressed solidarity with the electricity consumers’ movement. A written message communicating unity with the consumers’ movement was read out.
Why is Electricity Act (Amendment) Bill 2021 outright anti-people
- It would establish absolute control of monopoly houses on power sector.
- Electricity is on the concurrent list as inscribed on the Constitution of India. But centrally setting up centrally controlled load despatch centre and forming power distribution centre by nullifying electricity distribution licensees, the prescripts of the constitution is violated. Moreover, this would compel both load despatch and power distribution to be legally bound to comply with the fiats of the central government and the common consumers will be deprived of the democratic right to avail of legal assistance in case of deprivation, discrimination or irregularities.
- Thus, whatever limited rights a state government had hitherto enjoyed are completely curtailed. Now the central government will only engage in some formal discussion, if it so wishes, with a state government regarding formation of any state level electricity control commission though it would have enjoyed ultimate right to decide things.
- Between 1948 and 2003, before the BJP led central government promulgated new pro-monopolist Electricity Act, tariffs were determined as per (i) load factor, (ii) geographical location and (iii) purpose of use. Accordingly tariffs varied based on different levels of the consumers.
- The prevailing cross subsidy concept is that the bulk consumers like the industrialists, etc., need to pay higher amount and from that amount, subsidy is provided to the small consumers who pay relatively lower tariff. Now this cross subsidy and all other subsidies in electricity will be gradually abolished.
- If all levels of consumers are brought on par by abolishing cross subsidy, tariff of big industrial houses would come down from Rs 18 to Rs 10 per unit, while the domestic consumers will have to pay Rs 10 per unit in place of the present tariff of Rs 5 per unit. It means that the domestic consumers, small industries and agricultural consumers for whom the power sector incurs just 10% of the cost of its total infrastructure would have to pay much higher tariff. But the big industrial houses who account for 90% of the infrastructure cost would pay much lower tariff.
- The state governments who give subsidized electricity to the tune of crores and thus give relief to the ordinary consumers to some extent, would be debarred from doing so any more. If any such subsidy is decided at all, it would be directly credited to the consumers’ bank account. In the backdrop of how the amount of subsidy directly transferred to bank account of domestic LPG consumers has been progressively reduced unilaterally ans arbitrarily, without any explanation whatsoever, it is highly probable that payment of power subsidy, if any, would also l meet the same fate.
- For reaping super profit, the industrial houses would not hesitate to export power, even if that make common consumers starved of necessary power supply.
- Arguing in favour of compulsory installing pre-paid meters, the Central BJP government talks of guaranteed payment security. Another hoax! In case of exhaustion of the pre-paid amount, it might so happen that suddenly, even at wee hours, connection is cut. Moreover, such an arrangement would also entail retrenchment of thousands of meter readers as well as those who prepare the electric bills. Already, many consumers have been receiving astronomically high ghost electric bills because of defective as well as outlived meters. So, they would naturally be more scared once this so called pre-paid system is enforced.
- Engaging franchisees, sub- distributors: sub-distributors without licence under more than one electricity distribution companies for preparing electric bills, providing meters, repairing electric lines and transformers, giving new connections, etc. would entail tariff hike, harassment and escalate other costs of the consumers, because, being not being licensed, the sub-distributors will not have any commitment to the consumers.
- It is a tactic to handover electricity distribution on to the hands of the private players with the hypocritical logic that more than one competitor brings down price, which is a proven lie.