The Jharkhand State employee Unions had threatened to oppose any move to appoint franchisees or to divide the state electricity board into four companies without ensuring service and pension guarantee to its employees.Addressing a state-level convention of Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) employees , state general secretary of the Jharkhand State BijliKamgar Union, Ram Krishna Singh, levelled serious charges on the state and board authorities for handing over the revenue generating districts to franchisee companies and announced to launch a statewide agitation in a phased manner from March 2.
Jharkhand has all the resources like coal, water, methane and uranium to become a power hub. It is unfortunate that despite having several thermal power plants at Chandrapura, Bokaro, Maithon, Tenughat, people of Jharkhand are still hankering for power and the authorities have failed to increase the power-generation capacity of the state. Policy paralysis coupled with high-level corruption have ruined the state as well as the state power body.
"Now when the JSEB employees are being blamed for the losses and are being made to bear the brunt, we have no option but to retaliate," said the union leader. Levelling serious corruption charges on the state in managing the power body, Singh alleged that all those board chairmen who were honest and wanted to improve the working of the board were removed. Crores of rupees were spent on modernization of the Patratu Thermal and Sikidiri power plants but now they are being privatized.
The union had long been demanding installation of secure power meters and pre-paid meters at consumer points to minimize and gradually stop power theft, but the schemes were never implemented in earnestness. Now big industrial houses are stealing power at the expense of common people, he alleged.
He said Dhanbad power distribution zone alone generates a revenue of nearly Rs 31 crore a month, but there are no additional transformers available in the district.
Employees working with power lines are not even provided with a hand-glove leave alone other safety measures. The entire board is dependent on man-days workers who are given a meager sum of Rs 150 as daily allowance. Demanding their regularization, Singh said if the board authorities are not capable of running the board profitably, they should hand it over to the union who assure to provide undisrupted power supply with the existing infrastructural facilities.