CHENNAI: Thousands of Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) employees resorted to a work boycott on Monday in protest against the Union government for tabling the Electricity (Amendment) Bill in the Parliament.
As the employees resorted to protest, consumers who wanted to pay their bills at the Tangedco counters were left to lurch. Consumers also faced power outages in some places with the workers not responding to calls to attend to faults.
The Electricity Act Amendment Bill was tabled in Lok Sabha on Monday by Union Power Minister RK Singh and it was referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee amid stiff protest by the opposition.
CITU-affiliated Central Organisation of Tamil Nadu Electricity Employees (COTEE) president S Jaisankar said that all the employees of the Tangedco boycotted the work after signing the attendance in protest against the move to table the bill in the Parliament. “We are opposing the bill not only because it affects the employees' interest but also the consumers. The bill seeks to do away with the present form of subsidies paid to consumers like domestic, agricultural, and other categories. If the power distribution was privatised, how will consumers get the government subsidy?” he said.
Jaisankar also said if the distribution companies started recovering the generation cost from the consumers, the power tariff would go up sharply. “If the electricity charges go up, it will result in the price rise of all the items. It will affect all the sections of people,” he said.
The Bill is aimed at allowing the privatisation of electricity on the line of communication. If the bill is passed in both houses, customers will have the option to choose an electricity supplier just like one can choose for telephone, mobile and internet services. The Bill seeks to amend section 42 of the Electricity Act to facilitate non-discriminatory open access to the distribution network of a distribution licensee.
It also seeks to amend section 14 of the Act to facilitate the usage of distribution networks by all licensees under provisions of non-discriminatory open access with the objective of enabling competition, enhancing the efficiency of distribution licensees for improving services and ensuring the sustainability of the power sector. As a result, discoms will be able to use the power distribution network of other licensees.