Reversal of the policy to privatise the power distribution system in the Union Territory is unlikely especially after the meeting Chief Minister N. Rangasamy had with Lt. Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan at Raj Nivas on September 30, Cabinet sources said.
At the meeting, which was held for about 30 minutes in the presence of Chief Secretary Rajiv Verma, Secretary Power T. Arun and Secretary to the Lt. Governor Abhijit Vijay Chaudhary, the Chief Minister had suggested deferring the privatisation move till at least after Pongal to take all stakeholders into confidence, government sources said.
“Chief Minister made the suggestion to put on hold the decision till the festival season is over as the employees have gone on indefinite strike. The monsoon is due shortly and if the standoff with the employees continues, it will be difficult to deal with any exigency. Also, power disruption during festival time will be a hindrance to public as well to commercial establishments. So, the Chief Minister made the request,“ a Cabinet member told The Hindu.
As per the information, the source in the Cabinet said the Ministry of Home Affairs was unlikely to go back on a policy decision. “It’s a policy decision of the Centre and there is unlikely to be any reversal. It is pending for several years,“ he said.
On the public perception that the government remained mute to Centre’s privatisation move, a Minister said it would be difficult to overcome public interpretation. “But for the government, there are limitations to overrule a policy decision of MHA being a UT,” he said.
“We will continue to hold talks with the employees and try take them into confidence. We are also working on ways to financially assist households to go for solar energy under Smart City programme,“ he added.
It is learnt that following the invitation of bids for privatisation floated on September 27, Secretary, Power, held talks with representatives of striking employees on September 28 and 29. The Secretary during the talks gave assurance on protecting their existing service conditions while migrating to the private entity.
“We are ready to give further clarifications, if needed on service matters. But we cannot allow the strike to continue and cause public disturbance. The government will not also allow employees to indulge in sabotage with the aim to disturb supply. There are enough administrative mechanisms to deal with strike in Departments providing essential services. We have already consulted the Law Department on this,“ said another Minister.