GUWAHATI: The Ministry of Power's (MoP) bid to amend the Electricity Act, 2003 has suffered a setback as the move has been opposed by many stakeholders. The situation has come to such a pass that the Ministry had to extend its 21-day period for comments on the draft Bill from various stakeholders up to June 5, 2020.
The Union Ministry published the draft of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 on April 17, 2020. The Ministry gave a period of 21 days for comments from all stakeholders on the Bill. However, there has been opposition from many States and that has compelled the Ministry to extend the period for making comments on the draft Bill up to June 5, 2020.
The opposition to the Bill is spearheaded by the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers (NCCOEEE). Talking to The Sentinel, general secretary of the Assam State Electricity Supply Workers Union (ASESWU), a constituent of the NCCOEEE, Nayanjyoti Chakravarty said, "The Ministry has served the notice in a most unethical way during the nationwide lockdown. The Ministry has been trying to amend the Act since 2014 but failed to do it following strong protest from us. Following opposition from us the Union Ministry was compelled to extend the period for making comments on the draft Bill up to June 5, 2020. The Bill is aimed at privatizing the electricity distribution to sub-licensees and franchisees, and abolishing the existing cross subsidy. This will lead to hike in power tariff affecting the consumers. The Bill has a provision to form an electricity contract enforcement authority that is out to infringe the rights of the Electricity Regulatory Commissions of the States, besides curtailing the power of the respective State governments. Electricity is a concurrent subject. If cross subsidy is abolished, landless farmers and landless workers will have to bear the brunt of this.
"The Centre's decision to amend the Act has got its reflection on the recent package announced by the Prime Minister and the subsequent announcements made by the Union Finance Minister who mentioned privation of electricity in various schemes.
"The draft has been facing protest from States like Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Puduchery. We want the Government of Assam to oppose the Bill. We've already submitted a memorandum to the State government to this effect. We're going to support the June 1, 2020 nationwide protest against the Bill under the NCCOEEE."