Chandigarh, August 7, 2022 (Yes Punjab News)
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the Electricity Amendment Bill, 2022 to allow for widespread consultation with all stakeholders including the States, farmers and farm unions.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, the SAD President said in the meantime the government could refer the Amendment Bill to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) so that all objections would be taken into account and addressed.
The SAD President while writing to the Prime Minister also drew his attention to the fact that when the central government decided to repeal the three farm laws on December 9, 2021 it assured that it would not go ahead with enacting the Electricity Amendment Bill, 2022 without holding prior consultation with all stakeholders including the States, political parties, farmers and farmer associations.
Mr Sukhbir Badal said however the Amendment Bill was being brought in parliament tomorrow without holding any discussion with the stakeholders. “There is a large-scale feeling among States that their rights will be trampled upon if the Amendment Bill is enacted in its current form.
There is also the question of federal rights of States being usurped by the Bill which will undermine their authority. Electricity per se is also on the concurrent list and within the ambit of State powers. Considering all this it would be in the fitness of things if the centre initiates detailed discussions with the States and all other stakeholders to address their concerns before bringing the Bill to vote in parliament”, Mr Badal asserted.
The SAD President also brought it to the attention of the Prime Minister that the country had witnessed huge protests earlier over the three farm laws which were eventually repealed. He said there were apprehensions that if the Amendment Bill was enacted in its current form it would lead to further protests and unrest in the country. “This should be avoided at all costs”.
Conveying the sentiments of farmers and disadvantaged sections of society, Mr Badal said the former were of the firm view that the Electricity Amendment Bill would be detrimental to their interests. “There is a feeling that once the power sector is thrown open to private players’ subsidies being provided to farmers and disadvantaged sections of society will end. In the case of Punjab there is a feeling that the free power facility being provided to farmers for agricultural operations as well as partial free power provided to poorer sections will not be feasible once the new Bill becomes law”.
Mr Badal said there was also confusion about the functioning of the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions once the Central Regulatory Commission took on the role of the former. He said the State Commissions worked as per the particular needs of a State which would not be possible in the new set up.
“There is also a feeling that the State power utilities will be saddled with subsidized consumers and that those bearing the cost of cross-subsidization will migrate to private players. This will not only cripple the finances of States but also jeopardize the functioning of the State utilities and the future of its employees”, he added.