The Kerala Assembly on Thursday passed an unanimous resolution urging the Centre to withdraw its Electricity Amendment Bill, 2021, saying it would facilitate free entry of private players into the sector and help vest its entire control with the union government.
Setting aside their political differences, the ruling LDF and opposition UDF joined hands in the House to pass the resolution and press the BJP-NDA government at the Centre to withdraw the Bill.
Moving the resolution, Electricity Minister K Krishnankutty said though generally, the Centre used to intervene in the power sector, the matter of power distribution had always been handled by the states.
“Despite privatisation pressures, the right of the states to take decisions had always remained protected.However, the new Electricity Amendment Bill proposes to take away all such rights of the states and vest the entire control of the power sector with the Centre”, he said.
The Centre had failed to arrive at a consensus with the states over the issue, the minister alleged.
Alleging that the Bill would undermine the federal principles of the country, the resolution also alleged that it would pave the way for the destruction of the power sector in the country and deny electricity to the common men.
“Grabbing the rights of the states in taking decisions regarding the power sector will weaken the fundamentals of the federal structure,” it said.
One of the major proposals in the new Amendment Bill was the non-requirement of license to operate in the power sector, it said, adding that this would facilitate the free entry of private companies with the state government or the state Electricity Regulatory Commission having no control over them.
As per the amendment bill, the Centre would decide the eligibility criteria for such private players, it said.
The Resolution also pointed out that as per the new law, the private companies, which foray into the sector, have no obligation to invest in anything including in laying of new electricity lines.
It also warned that this would lead to complete ‘uncertainty’ in the power distribution sector.
Even after the amendment, the responsibility to construct new power lines and its maintenance would remain with the public sector utilities only, the resolution added.
The resolution also expressed strong reservation about the proposal giving power to the Centre to control the activities of the state Electricity Regulatory Commissions and giving them directions.