Workers’ protest: UP puts Varanasi discom privatisation on the back burner

Updated: Oct 07, 2020 8:24 AM

The move by the BJP-ruled state, one that follows the Centre’s reformist policies for the stressed sector most ardently, comes close on the heels of the Union power ministry seeking to fast-track the privatisation of electricity discoms in the country, by issuing the draft standard bidding guidelines.

Giving details of the roadmap for the next three months, the official said the management’s perspective was that there should be an improvement in revenue generation.

By Deepa Jainani

The Uttar Pradesh government has put in abeyance a plan to unbundle and privatise the Varanasi discom, Purvanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam (PVVNL), following protests from its engineers and other workers.

The move by the BJP-ruled state, one that follows the Centre’s reformist policies for the stressed sector most ardently, comes close on the heels of the Union power ministry seeking to fast-track the privatisation of electricity discoms in the country, by issuing the draft standard bidding guidelines.

In a meeting of Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation (UPPCL) officials and Sangharsh Samiti, which was presided over by state finance minister Suresh Khanna and energy minister Shrikant Sharma, the UP government assured the employees that efforts would be made to improve the discoms in the present set-up only by taking the employees into confidence.

According to an agreement signed between state principal secretary (energy) Arvind Kumar and the employees’ representatives, the UPCCL management also assured the staff that it would not implement privatisation in any sphere without taking workers into confidence.

“For the next three months we will not talk of any privatisation. But we will monitor the daily performance and have a monthly meeting on the progress. Efforts would be made to improve the working of the discoms and improve revenue realisation. We will take a view on the issue after three months,” said a senior UPPCL official, requesting anonymity, adding that revenue was most important.

“Unless we earn revenue and are able to pay the gencos at least for the power purchase, we cannot be sustainable. The employees have to commit to this at least. Privatisation for the sake of privatisation is not our aim. Our aim is that you improve the system, else we will have to find alternatives.”

Giving details of the roadmap for the next three months, the official said the management’s perspective was that there should be an improvement in revenue generation. “We need at least Rs 5,400 crore per month for the balance six months of the current financial year to become self-sustaining. Our total expenses, including O&M, is Rs 77,000 crore and we get around Rs 12,000 crore as government subsidy. Our power purchase cost is Rs 60,000 crore per annum. Last year, our revenue was around Rs 40,000 cr. This year our target is Rs 50,000 crore, meeting which is key to survival,” he said.

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