With preparations underway for handing over electricity distribution of several cities in Uttar Pradesh, including Ghaziabad, to private companies, employees of the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) began an agitation protesting against privatization of distribution utilities on 15-04-2013.
In what could come as a big worry for the Samajwadi Party government during the peak of summers, power employees have threatened to go on indefinite work boycott from May 13 in protest of state government decision to privatise power distribution in four cities. May 13 happens to be the date when consultant to study the feasibility of the privatisation of distribution of electricity in Kanpur, Meerut, Ghaziabad and Varanasi will be finalised by the state government. On 15-04-2013, power employees held demonstrations in various district headquarters and offices against the move.
While employees opposing the takeover of distribution utilities have held the top management of UPPCL responsible for the mess in the region last week, residents say that given their failure to supply adequate electricity, employees have no moral right to oppose any alternative mechanism being worked out to provide assured supply.
Employees said the crisis was more due to the corporation's mismanagement than anything else. Officials at the dharna said that while electricity could have been purchased at cheap rates from various sources under the power exchange system, the top management did not buy any power to meet the shortfall. "This led to a supply crisis, resulting in long power cuts. The corporation doesn't have enough finances to purchase additional power," said D K Jain, convener of Vidyut Karmachari Association.
Shailendra Dubey convener of Vidyut Karamchari Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti said employees of various corporations of energy department will go on indefinite work boycott if the state government did not cancel the bid inviting applications from technical consultants. He said though employees of generation and transmission have been kept away from the agitation in the first phase, the situation would take a turn for the worse if the decision was not reversed.
The samiti said in a statement that the policy of privatisation served no other purpose but of privatising profits and nationalising losses. The samiti claimed the average revenue recovery in the state has been at Rs 2.35 per unit, while the line losses have been at 37.35%. But, in case of various divisions of Ghaziabad the revenue recovery has been between Rs 4.38 and Rs 4.54 per unit, while the line losses have been between 13.20% and 16.65%.Other cities where privatisation is proposed too have been performing relatively well. Meerut, for example, has a revenue recovery rate of 3.13 per unit. The city registers line losses of 35.42%. Kanpur too has an average revenue recovery of Rs 3.30 per unit, while its line losses hover around 32%.Cities selected for privatisation, the samiti claimed, have higher revenue recovery. This only suggests that privatisation of power distribution in these cities is being done with the purpose of giving leverage to private houses who will earn profits.