Mazdoor Ekta Lehar
In your earlier issues you had reported about the strong opposition of people to the privatization of electricity distribution in the Kalwa, Mumbra, Diva zones of Thane district. The Maharashtra government had declared that it would hand over the distribution to Torrent Power in January 2019. I am happy to inform you that we have so far succeeded in halting the Maharashtra Government’s efforts of privatisation.
Through your paper I would like to highlight the unique features of this struggle. In these areas not only the workers of Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company, but tens of thousands of consumers are opposing the privatization move. Immediately after the plans of the government were revealed, many citizens’ organizations like Lok Raj Sangathan , Torrent Hatao Kriti Samiti , Agri Samaj Pratishthan , Agri Yuwak Sanghatana as well as unions of electricity workers swung into action. Tens of thousands of leaflets were distributed and dozens of citizens’ meetings were organized. The lies of the government propaganda to justify the privatization were thoroughly exposed. The government’s attempts to incite citizens against electricity workers were defeated. As a result of this mass awareness campaign, electricity workers and citizens joined hands. Many demonstrations have been organized. Many youths of Sheel Phata area sat on a hunger strike for six days. When Torrent officials tried to rent a place for their office they had to run away after seeing the angry opposition of people. All these united activities put tremendous pressure on the MPs and MLAs of the area belonging to different political parties. The concerned minister was forced to declare that the government will consult citizens before taking any further steps.
The unity of citizens and workers has so far put a spoke in the wheels of the privatization drive for more than 8 months. We all are aware that our struggle is not easy and we will have to be vigilant. However, our success thus far has highlighted a very important lesson for all those fighting against privatization: If citizens, i.e. users of public services and workers of public sector enterprises unite, they can halt privatization.
Raju Gadgil, Kalwa