New Delhi: All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) condemned the move of the central government’ to amend the National Electricity Policy in order to facilitate the privatization of the power sector. AIPEF stated that the proposed changes need extensive discussions and the time required for submission of comments should be six months.
The Federation said that when fundamental changes are being introduced by way of privatization of the power sector, there is no basis to rush through more under extreme distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
AIPEF alleged that this move is clearly an attempt to introduce privatization through the backdoor. This move deserves to be scrapped according to the Federation.
AIPEF’s statement mentioned, “All India Power Engineers Federation condemns the Government of India’s move to amend the National Electricity Policy to facilitate the privatization of the power sector.”
Power Engineers body alleged that the central government’s purpose is not to review or revise the existing National Electricity Policy but the total replacement of existing policy with a new policy to be recommended by the expert group to achieve privatization.
National Electricity Policy will be prepared in consultation with the state governments and a statutory body- Central Electricity Authority (CEA), according to Electricity Act 2003.
However, the power engineers’ body informed that the CEA is not included in the proposed schedule of discussion. Only five states have been included in an expert group instead of all the states.
Chief Economic Adviser K Subramanian said that India is the only nation that readily implemented a slew of reforms and used this crisis to herald a change in the country’s economic thinking.
The strategy of government seems to be “never waste a crisis” and use the crisis of COVID 19 pandemic to streamroll so-called reforms by way of privatizing.
AIPEF stated that the draft proposal is serious in nature for which the present situation of a pandemic is a serious constraint.
Ministry of Power, Government of India has again found peak pandemic time as an opportunity in crisis to launch the draft amendments to National Electricity Policy, AIPEF lamented.
As per the opinion of the body, once the draft policy is finalised, the notified policy would have the status of “subordinate legislation”, and thus the matters needs to deliberate as in the case of the legislation itself or as in the case of amendment in the Act itself.
AIPEF noted that the draft National Electricity Policy is pushing for more private participation in the power sector and launching sell out of public assets as at Chandigarh and Dadra Nagar Haveli. According to the opinion of the federation, the preferred route being suggested are failed models like the franchisee system, transferring distribution responsibility to a private party, and separation of carriage (lines) and content (supply) business.
The body further said that since the existing Policy is in force since February 2005 there was no emergency to replace it, while power engineers and workers as front line workers are already stressed in maintaining power continuity.