Thursday, June 30, 2022

Halt unilateral privatisation of Chandigarh electricity department

VINOD GUPTA | March 04, 2022 05:44 PM

CHADNIGARH: The Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS) has expressed serious concern at the “unilateral privatisation” of electricity distribution entities in the Union Territories (UTs) and urged the central government to halt the privatisation exercise in respect of Chandigarh.

V K Gupta spokesperson All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) said that PCPSPS comprises of various academics, jurists, former bureaucrats, trade unionists, and social activists. The Federation has forwarded NGO's viewpoint on Friday to the Chandigarh administration and others.

M G Devasahayam IAS (Retd), EAS Sarma IAS (Retd), V P Raja IAS (Retd), and Ms Aditi Mehta IAS (Retd), in a statement , said that there is no provision in the law that gives unilateral and complete discretion to the Government of India to take unilateral decisions in the matter of union territories without even consulting the local government or administration,Punjab and Haryana as Chandigarh is the joint capital of the two states, the employees and other stakeholders. PCPSPS strongly object to the center exercising its power in a completely arbitrary and unilateral manner, in blatant violation of the spirit of federalism. In the case of the Chandigarh electricity department, the supply is having the lowest transmission and distribution losses, the department is making sizeable profits, year after year, and the tariff is lower than the states of Punjab and Haryana. Therefore, there is no cause of action whatsoever for the privatisation of the Chandigarh electricity Department.

The entire exercise is based on a private consultant determining the reserve price and then a limited tender being called for where there seems to be a collusion It is equally important that the bidding document be made public, detailing the terms and conditions under which public assets, particularly in respect of alienation of land, would be transferred. This should have the consent of the Parliament or legislature as may be relevant since the assets have been built
over a generation with public money. In the case of the Puducherry which has an elected representative Government,,
the legislature has unanimously rejected the proposal to privatise the electrical distribution system.

Once the department is privatised, the consumers of Chandigarh would be completely and entirely at the mercy of the private undertaking which has no accountability save to its shareholders.

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