“The reforms in power sector launched in 1990s have failed miserably”

A resolution urging the Centre to review and amend the Electricity Act 2003 with a pro-people development agenda was adopted at the seventh national conference of Electricity Employees Federation of India (EEFI) recently.

Pointing out that neo-liberal reforms in the power sector, launched with much fanfare in the early 1990s and followed by enactment of the Electricity Act in 2003, have failed miserably, the resolution demanded that an alternative agenda be framed for the power sector development to meet the national aspiration of electricity for all at an affordable cost.

The Union government should roll back the “disastrous reforms”.

Explaining the context in which the resolution was adopted at the conference held here from August 10 to 12, EEFI general secretary, Prasanta Nandi Chowdhury argued that the deviation from the original ‘objective and aim’ of the pre-reform laws — providing electricity as a service to promote socio-economic development — was the root cause of the present problem.

Under the existing legal framework, electricity was regarded as a marketable commodity and all States had been forced to float power distribution companies, surrendering their powers.

Accusing the Union government of “acting at the behest of capitalistic forces,” Mr. Chowdhury said the Centre, which had earmarked “sufficient funds” for carrying out reforms/revival of the sector in States, had imposed “anti-people conditions” such as the creation of distribution companies and hike/revision of electricity tariff on a yearly basis for getting grants released from the Central fund.

On the devastating grid failure recorded on July 30 and 31 in 2012 in some parts of the country, he said this was nothing but the outcome of “unruly behaviour” of the market forces unleashed by the provisions of Electricity Act. The conference also passed resolutions demanding the formulation of energy policy that would ensure energy security of the nation and putting an end to the growing trend of employing contract workers and providing “inhuman working conditions” for such labourers.

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