Sunday, August 01, 2021

Punjab should strongly oppose sinister move to privatise electricity in Chandigarh: Bir Devinder Singh

PUNJAB NEWSLINE | June 15, 2021 02:32 PM

CHANDIGARH: There is a sinister move by the Government of India to privatize Electricity supply in the Union Territories. But there is no justification for privatization power supply in the case of UT, Chandigarh, and a city that has negligible line losses, low tariff, and good consumer.

This was stated here today by former Deputy Speaket Bir Devinder Singh. He said thatl the power department in the UT, Chandigarh has been earning profit for long and it was in the range of Rs 260 crore during the last fiscal year.

Obviously, if privatization of electricity supply is adopted for Chandigarh, there would be a definite hike in the tariff, consumer discontent, and in addition the futile exercise would cause enormous burden on the exchequer.

There has been widespread apprehension and sense of disquiet in the public mind that the GOI is adopting Privatization policy only to give financial benefit to corporate and big business houses particularly to the Adanis.

On the other hand the Central Government is swallowing Punjab's capital Chandigarh, in bits and pieces, to which as grave injustice to Punjab; the Central Government has deliberately kept as UT for an indefinite period of time. Moreover Chandigarh is a Capital of Punjab despite being a disputed territory between Punjab and Haryana , therefore, the UT administration should not take any such policy decision in haste which has far reaching implications.

The latest move of the Centre to privatize the distribution of power in the Union Territory, Chandigarh is designed to benefit the business interests of the selected favorite corporate houses, having the patronage of a powerful duo at the Centre. As of now power department of UT Chandigarh is earning substantial profit and the eagle eye of the corporation is obviously on that profit, because the last year’s profit of power department Chandigarh was more than Rs. 260 crore. How could the central government take a decision to privatize the power distribution in the UT Chandigarh, when this decision would have a long term effect for next 30 years or more because the distribution contract would be given at least for 30 years?

Moreover, Chandigarh is Punjab's capital, the transfer of which is due to the State of Punjab any time; therefore no long term or short term policy decision can be taken by the centre about any department in the UT Chandigarh, without the approval of the Punjab. I wonder why the Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh is in deep slumber over these significant issues pertained to the vital interests of Punjab.

Unfortunately the SAD (Badal) has also completely forgotten and never raised the issue in recent times that Chandigarh belongs to Punjab. The nomenclature and categorization of Chandigarh is different, it’s not like other Union Territories such as Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Island, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu or Lakshadweep etc. Since Chandigarh is the capital of Punjab; the UT administration of Chandigarh must immediately stop the process of handing over the precious assets of Punjab’s Capital to private corporate house(s).

The Government of India must restore Punjab's 60 percent share in all the Government departments as far as employees are concerned and all top slots of UT administration must be filled from Punjab cadre employees. In UT police, Punjab should be given its due share of 60 percent in constabulary and higher ranks up to DGP level. Keeping in view the special status of Chandigarh and its political nuance, the posting of UT cadre officers in Chandigarh must be stopped right away.

It would have been better if Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and his cabinet colleagues had taken a due notice of this development and should have lodged a protest to the UT Administrator V.P. Singh Badnore with regard to the process of privatization, that includes floating of tenders and asking for expression of interest, of power supply in Chandigarh urging him to stop it immediately. But unfortunately, Punjab Government has preferred to keep mum over this issue for reasons best known to it.

It is learnt that the UT administrator V.P. Singh Badnore is taking keen interest for the privatization of the power in Punjab's capital Chandigarh. As a matter of legitimate probity no constitutional authority should take any policy decision with far reaching implications, particularly when such authority is about to demit office very soon. Since the current tenure of Governor V.P Singh Badnore is due to end in August therefore as a Governor Punjab, People of Punjab would legitimately expect from him that he would not harm the vital interests of Punjab at the ‘fag end’ of his current tenure. Actually the Governor Punjab was appointed as an administrator of UT, Chandigarh with the understanding that he would not allow the Punjab’s interests to suffer in UT and would rather protect the interest of the state of which Chandigarh is a capital.

I would be separately writing to heads of all the political parties in Punjab to raise their voice against the process of power supply privatization initiated by the UT Administration in Chandigarh and with regard to other issues such as ensuring of the 60 per cent quota of Punjab employees in all UT Chandigarh departments including police, transport, administration and so on.




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