Electricity Bill, a shocker for States: KCR

Telangana Assembly adopts resolution against Electricity Bill; KCR says it will hit TS farmers hard

By   |  Published: 16th Sep 2020  12:03 amUpdated: 16th Sep 2020  12:45 am
File photo of Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao

Hyderabad: The Telangana Legislative Assembly on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution opposing the proposed Electricity Amendment Bill 2020 likely to be introduced by the Union government during the ongoing Monsoon session of Parliament.

Moving the resolution, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao said the Bill will put the lives of farmers in the State at peril just when they were recovering from decades of neglect and severe power shortage. “The Bill in its present form is dangerous. The Centre has sent us a draft and I have discussed the provisions of the Bill and wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to withdraw the proposal. As I understand, the Centre will go ahead and introduce the Bill in the present Parliament session itself,” he said.

Urging the Centre to withdraw the Draconian Bill which “is against the federal spirit envisaged by the Constitution,” and is aimed at usurping powers of the States, the Chief Minister said the proposed amendment to the Electricity Act of 2003 was drafted in a way that was detrimental to the interests of farmers. “Through this resolution, the Telangana Assembly demands the Centre not to impose the Act on the people of the nation and immediately withdraw the proposed Bill,” Chief Minister said.

Stating that both the Congress and BJP led governments at the Centre had centralised power which was against the spirit of the Constitution, he said the Prime Minister was further centralising powers instead of strengthening the States. “In a nutshell, if there is trouble in electricity supply here in Hyderabad, I need to call the Load Dispatch Centre in New Delhi rather than calling the State Load Dispatch Centre,” he said, explaining the adverse impact of the proposed Bill.

He wondered why successive governments at the Centre never bothered about utilising the 70,000 tmc of water available in the entire nation, with the utilisation never crossing 28,000 tmc. “As a result, only 40 crore acres in the country is under cultivation. Similarly, even as the total installed capacity of power generation units in the country is 4 lakh megawatts, the Peak Load Factor (PLF) has never crossed 2,19,000 MW. What happened to the rest?” he questioned.

He said that many power generation companies were shut and the Union government had no plans on how to utilise the extra capacity. “Instead, they have taken a wrong route by proposing the Bill. I urge the lone BJP MLA and the four BJP MPs from Telangana to impress upon the Centre to withdraw the Bill,” he said.

“While the Centre is trying to put the entire power sector in the hands of the private sector, I have been insisting that only the government will run the Bhadradri and Yadadri power plants. The logic is simple, if the government runs the units, then we can give subsidies to farmers, the poor, we can plough back the earnings into the State’s economy and give more jobs. But a private company will just reap the benefits and leave,” he said.

Digging deeper into the controversial aspects of the Bill, the Chief Minister said that the Bill proposes handing over open access to industries giving them the right to chose the generation company from anywhere by scouting for cheaper rates. “What will happen to the power generated by Genco and Transmitted by the Transco here in Telangana? They will end up like public sector BSNL, LIC, Railways and the Air India,” he said. He also criticised the provision for sub-licensing the distribution of power bringing the private sector into the Discom business.

“This is a draconian Bill. The Bill will end cross subsidies, will end the role of States in selecting the members of the State Electricity Regulation Commission (ERC) and will also force the States to purchase power generated by the Renewable Energy (RE) generation companies located somewhere else in the country,” he said. He pointed out that the Bill was biased against States such as Telangana as hydel power generated by Nagarjuna Sagar and Srisailam will not be considered as RE, only to force Telangana to purchase it from the north.

“The Bill says that if we don’t purchase a certain amount of power from these units run by private companies, the State will be fined up to Rs 2 per unit. What kind of law is this? This means that we have to cut down our power production to that extent and purchase the RE from others or pay a fine,” he said, adding that the Bill strikes at the very roots of State’s self-reliance and federal spirit in one go.

Impact on Agrarian Sector

Speaking on the issue of the impact of the Bill on the agrarian sector in the State, he said that over 26 lakh farmers in the State have dug borewells at a cost of Rs 45,000 crore. Under the flood flow canal alone, there are 10,000 farmers pumping water and cultivating land. “We are allowing them to do so as there is no crime committed in irrigating the crop. Now if the Centre wants us to take readings of their usage, we need poles, transmission lines and meters. It was calculated that Rs 7,000 crore will be required to fix meters. Then we need bill collectors to collect the bills, and pay them salaries,” the Chief Minister said, explaining the adverse impact on a State like Telangana that gives 24 hour free power to farmers.

“I wrote to the Prime Minister two months ago pointing out that this Bill will kill our farmers. But he is not listening. States like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Delhi have come forward to join hands with us in opposing the Bill. Our MPs will fight against the bill in Parliament,” the Chief Minister said, and thanked all the political parties including Congress that supported the resolution.

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