Highlights

  • Opposition parties and power employees have said that the bill will lead to privatisation of the electricity sector.
  • Bill has been sent to Standing Committee

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Explained: The new Electricity Bill and the opposition it faces

Centre on Monday, 8 August, tabled the Electricity Amendment Bill 2022 in the Lok Sabha during the Parliament's Monsoon Session.

There is a new power struggle in Parliament and this time it is literal as Modi govt faces severe opposition to the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022. Editorji explains what is this bill all about and why is it being touted as a 'dangerous' bill.

What does the bill propose to do?

  • Enable consumers to choose from multiple power suppliers in an area, just like in telecom
  • Introduce concept of graded revision of tariff
  • Fixing of maximum and minimum tariff offered by the power companies
  • Allow network sharing for optimum utilisation
  • Regulation and obligation to source power from renewable sources.

Who is opposing?
The bill is being opposed by farmer groups, the All India Power Engineers Federation and opposition-ruled states for several reasons. Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter to call it a 'dangerous bill'. Many power engineers protested the Bill across the country, in states like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Rajasthan. Labour unions and the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella organisation that was at the centre of the Farmers’ Protests is also protesting the proposed amendments.

What are the main points of opposition?

  • The govt did not hold consultations with all concerned before tabling
  • Would hurt government discom balance sheets further
  • Protestors claim that only government discoms or distribution companies will have universal power supply obligations
  • Private operators will choose to be available only in 'profitable' areas
  • Profit-making areas will be snatched from government discoms
  • Given central govt authority to allow private distributors to use state built networks
  • Fear that amendments leave the door open for power subsidy for farmers to be taken away eventually
  • Electricity is a concurrent subject, state and centre have equal saw on the matter but amendments sway the favour towards union govt as per opposition.

What next?
Power minister RK Singh said the legislation, which aims to streamline payments and encourage competition, would be sent to the parliamentary standing committee.

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