The Electricity Amendment Bill 2022, which was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Monday, has drawn widespread criticism from various sections across the country.
Electricity amendment bill 2022
The bill seeks to amend Section 42 of the Electricity Act to facilitate non-discriminatory open access to a distribution concessionaire’s distribution network. If passed and signed into law, it would give customers the option to choose their electricity provider, just like one can choose their phone, mobile and Internet service providers.
When the farmers were given a guarantee regarding their demands being met, after which they withdrew their year-long dharma from the borders of Delhi, it was also promised that the bill would not be tabled in Parliament. The introduction of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 is a concurrent issue and requires discussion with the CMs of all states before it is introduced in Parliament. However, the Center introduced the bill in the Lok Sabha on Monday, thus drawing the ire of the CMs.
The bill has been opposed by several opposition parties, as well as labour groups, on the grounds that it would only benefit a few power distribution companies owned by large companies.
If the Electricity Amendment Bill 2022 is passed in the Lok Sabha, any consumer of electricity, whether private or commercial, will have discretion in choosing their service provider, much like the way they choose their services. telecommunications and Internet service providers.
The bill, if passed, will also pave the way for private players to enter the power sector, which is currently dominated by the government.
The Electricity Amendment Bill 2022 would introduce private players into the sector and pose a threat to the livelihood of 27 lakh government employees. Electrical engineers and employees across the country have threatened to stop their work and launch a protest on August 8 if the bill passes.
Engineers and employees in the energy sector have also issued a notice of agitation against the Center’s “unilateral attempt” to pass the bill through Parliament.
Despite repeated requests from the AIPEF, the central government has not had any discussions with electrical engineers or employees, not once in recent times, regarding the proposed amendments to the 2003 Electricity Act, Shailendra Dubey said, President of the All India Federation of Power Engineers (AIPEF).
Why farmers are unhappy with Bill?
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha on Thursday warned the Central Government not to introduce and pass the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 in the Monsoon Parliament session.
“The withdrawal of this Bill was one of the main demands of the peasants’ struggle for a year. On December 9, 2021, the Central Government sent a letter to the SKM, which read as follows: Regarding the provisions of the Electric Power Law Project that affect farmers, there will first be a discussion with all interested parties / Samyukt Kisan Morcha. Only after discussion with Morcha will the bill be brought before Parliament,” SKM said in a statement.
The SKM further said that such a discussion had never taken place in the past eight months, pointing to an “absolute betrayal of the Union Government’s written guarantees.”
“The Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 aims to guarantee the entry of private companies in the electricity distribution sector,” fears SKM.
The farmers’ body has called for mass protests across the country if the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 is passed, saying, “The SKM fully supports the nationwide call for action by the National Coordinating Committee of Employees and Electrical Engineers, for demonstrations throughout the country on August 9. and stop working if the Government unilaterally places and approves this bill.”
Opposing the introduction of Bill
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, a supporter of providing free power in states governed by his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), tweeted his anguish against the legislation ahead of his unveiling.
On Twitter, he said: “This law is very dangerous. With this, instead of improving the country’s electricity problem, it will worsen. The suffering of the people will increase. Only a few companies will benefit. I appeal to the Center not to bring this in a hurry.”
Another AAP leader, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, tweeted that the legislation was “another attack on states’ rights.” He expressed his strong opposition to the bill saying that “the central government must not consider the states as puppets, we will fight for our rights… from the road to Parliament…”
Opposing the introduction of the bill, RSP member N K Premachandran, MPs Manish Tewari and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, CPI(M) M A Arif, Trinamool member Saugata Roy and DMK leader T R Baalu said the bill went against the federal structure of the Constitution.
Premachandran said that electricity was on the concurrent list and that it was the Center’s “inescapable duty” to have “effective consultations” with state governments before introducing the bill.
Tewari said the bill sought to allow multiple private companies to provide electricity in the same area, a provision that could lead to “privatization of profits and nationalization of losses.”
He argued that the legislation also sought to reduce the Center’s role in electricity distribution.
Roy and Arif said the bill ran counter to assurances given by the Modi government to Samyukta Kisan Morcha, who had besieged the national capital for a year demanding the reversal of agricultural reforms and the postponement of proposed amendments to the Electricity Law.
Baalu said the Tamil Nadu government has been giving free electricity to farmers for the past few years and the proposed amendments could affect “poor farmers” who receive free power.
The Energy Minister claimed that members of the opposition were indulging in “false propaganda” against the bill.
“Farmers will continue to receive free energy. Subsidies will not be cut,” Minister Singh said amid calls for wider consultations on the move.
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