The Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on August 8, 2022. The Bill, which had earlier not been listed for the monsoon session of Parliament, was hurriedly introduced at the last minute. It was opposed by many opposition parties in parliament. Subsequently, it was referred to the parliamentary standing committee on energy for further consultations.
The Electricity Amendment Billis aimed at enabling private companies to take over electricity distribution using the distribution networks of the state discoms. The monopoly capitalists want the Bill to be passed, in order to facilitate their domination over electrical power distribution all over the country, to reap enormous profits.
Electricity sector workers have repeatedly warned the government that if it attempted to pass the Electricity Amendment Bill 2022, they would organise all India protest actions, as well as indefinite strike disrupting electricity supply. In pursuance of this decision, Electricity sector workers all over the country organised protest actions on the day the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 was tabled in parliament.
An estimated 1 million out of a total workforce of 2.7 million workers participated in a “Cease Work Action” called by the National Co-ordination Committee of Electricity Employees & Engineers (NCCOEEE), according to a press release issued by the NCCOEEE. Reports of protest actions and demonstrations have come from Hyderabad, Chennai, Trivandrum, Bangalore, Vijayawada, Lucknow, Patiala, Dehradun, Shimla, Jammu, Srinagar, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune, Vadodara, Raipur, Jabalpur, Bhopal, Ranchi, Guwahati, Shillong, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, and other cities.
Communist Ghadar Party congratulates the Electricity Sector workers for their militant resistance to the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022.
The Electricity Amendment Bill, 2022, is aimed at privatisation of electricity distribution. This is being carried out by handing over profitable sections of the distribution networks owned by state owned distribution companies to private distribution monopolies. It will result in the bankruptcy and liquidation of the state owned distribution companies. Once private monopolies establish their domination over distribution of electricity, they will raise electricity tariffs to the maximum possible level. The masses of workers, peasants and working people will be further impoverished.
The Electricity Amendment Act has faced widespread opposition not only from Electricity workers, but from masses of kisans of the country. Consumer forums have emerged in many states of the country, which have been working closely with Electricity workers unions to explain to masses of people the disastrous consequences of privatisation of electricity distribution.
Despite the mass opposition from all sections of the people, the government has gone ahead and tabled the Electricity Amendment Bill 2022 in parliament. This reveals once again how the agenda of every government is set by the interests of the monopoly capitalists, and not the interests of the people.
It is a common practice when a new Bill is introduced in Parliament, particularly when conflicting views on it are expected, to send it to a Parliamentary Standing Committee. Such committees usually consist of MPs of both ruling and opposition parties. These committees review the law in closed door meetings with bourgeois experts, think tanks and consultants, both Indian and foreign.
This practice is promoted as “genuine parliamentary democracy in action”, since the views of opposition parties and many bourgeois experts are incorporated in drafting the Bill. However, the views of the workers and peasants are never taken into account.
Electricity workers and masses of people opposing the privatisation of electricity distribution must not be deceived by the illusion that referring the Bill to a Parliamentary Standing Committee will prevent the agenda of the monopoly capitalist houses from prevailing. People must not forget that many of the parties that are opposing the government at the present time are committed to the agenda of the monopoly capitalists of privatisation of electricity distribution. Whenever they have been in charge of the executive, they heve pursued the agenda of privatisation.
The Power Sector workers must remain vigilant, and strengthen their unity with all other workers and with the kisans, They must prepare to step up their struggle against the privatisation of electricity distribution.