Strongly opposing the proposed amendment to the Electricity Act 2003, employees of the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board (HPSEB) have decided to take part in the protest called by the national coordination committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on December 8.
HPSEB employees union general secretary Hira Lal Verma claimed the proposed amendment would have serious implications for the power industry, consumers as well as employees of power utilities.
The efforts of the ministry is to further strengthen the power market operations in the country and fast track commercialization of the power sector through removal of entry barriers for the private sector in the retail supply of electricity.
Verma alleged the amendment seeks mandatory unbundling of the power distribution sector and creation of exclusive licences to handle the retail supply business, with full liberty to indulge in "cherry picking." "The central government also want to grab the few powers of the state governments regarding the power distribution sector," he added.
Verma said section 11 of the Electricity Act, 2003 had given discretionary powers to the state to curtail the sale of power generated by the private sector (using the state's resources) outside the state during times of acute power shortage within the state. This section is proposed to be amended to help the private sector.
Also, the functioning of state regulators are to be more vigorously scrutinized by the central government to ensure they do not fall in line with the policy of the state government concerned. "If necessary, the appointment rights of the regulators will be taken over by the central government," he added.
Verma also claimed the proposed amendment would further aggravate the crisis as the market reforms through implementation of the Electricity Act, 2003 had already had an adverse impact on power supply to consumers.