Centre’s intention is to kill welfare State concept: Vinod

Centre’s intention is to kill welfare State concept: Vinod

He fears Modi govt may tweak rules even after Electricity (Amendment) Bill becomes an Act; accuses it of seeking to usurp State’s powers

State Planning Board Vice-Chairman B Vinod Kumar believes that Electricity (Amendment) Bill-2022 will ultimately pave the way for privatisation of power generation and distribution. In an exclusive chat with VV Balakrishna, he said, “The poor would be deprived of power, once the Bill is passed in Parliament.”

Excerpts from the interview:

Finally, the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022 has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee. What is your view?
The present Bill is different in many ways from the main Electricity Act, 2003. The Central government had promised to discuss with the farmers, before introducing the Bill in Parliament. But, reneging on the same, it introduced the Bill without holding talks with the farming community

What are the differences between the Electricity Act, 2003 and the present Bill?
In the Bill, it is proposed to privatise power generation and distribution companies. Private Discoms can be operated in the areas of State-owned TSSPDCL and TSNPDCL territories

More Discoms mean consumers will have better choices? Why object?
Private Discoms, if allowed, will focus mainly on the creamy layer. They will focus on villas and the rich. They will not care for the under-privileged and people living in extreme poverty. It will be a great loss to the society. State-owned Discoms will be pushed into losses and closed. Those, who have money, will get power supply. The poor will have no other option but to accept the fact that they will not get power. We have to fix meters to agriculture motors.

What are the other dangers you see in the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022?
The main intention is to kill the welfare State concept. At several places in the Bill, it reads --- ‘as may be prescribed by the Central government’. It means the Centre is keeping its options open to change the provisions after it becomes an Act. Even if the legislation is enacted, and implemented in toto, there is every possibility of the Centre tweaking the rules making it very difficult for the poor. It is against the federal structure of the country

The State government is opposing the Bill. What will the TRS government do if the Bill is passed?
We have no option but to implement the Act. The Centre has already troubled the State by not sanctioning loans of REC and PFC. We will explain to the people the malafide intentions of the Central government so that they understand that the BJP is responsible for their power problems, not the TRS government. Once the Bill is passed, it can be challenged in court

Why does TRS object?

  • State cannot continue subsidies for SCs, STs, poor and those depending on caste professions
  • State has to fix meters to 25 lakh agriculture motors, which requires a whopping Rs 700 crore
  • There will be a problem in implementing cross-subsidy
  • Private players will focus mainly on urban areas and the rich, leaving the poor will be neglected
  • The new Discoms will snatch away rich customers and leaving loss-making areas to State-owned Discoms
  • Entire power sector will be managed by the Centre

The New Indian Express