Engineers seek reforms in power sector

Engineers in the power sector have passed a resolution to support the party that addresses the crisis in the industry.

The resolution was passed at the federal executive meeting of the All India Power Engineers’ Federation (AIPEF) on Saturday, which was attended by representatives from 18 states. The meeting was chaired by AIPEF president Padamjit Singh.

The AIPEF demanded the formation of a high-level expert group under the supervision and control of the prime minister so that failure in achievement of aims and objectives of the Electricity Act, 2003, could be analysed and remedial measures evolved.

Poor finances

Singh said the financial health of the power sector had deteriorated, compelling the government to subsidise even private sector distribution companies. He warned that the banking sector might collapse under the burden of the non-performing assets generated by the power sector.

On power shortage in the southern region, Singh said that the State-owned power plants in the West and the North are being shut down for lack of load. This was in spite of a provision for physical infrastructure to transfer power from one region to another.

The secretary general of the Federation, Shailender Dubey, highlighted the faulty decisions that led to the crisis in the power sector. “Power sector reforms, which were initiated for giving power to all at affordable rates, have failed miserably.

The very purpose of changing the legislation in 2003 was to reduce the losses in the sector, improve the financial health of the sector and reduce the subsidy burden on the government too,” he explained. He pointed out that the creation of the multiple agencies will add cost at every level and consumers will be the ultimate losers.

“The government has now proposed to make amendments to the Electricity Act, 2003, by suggesting major changes such as separating carriage and content in distribution by introducing supply as a separate function.

The main aim of these amendments is to further develop the power market rather than improve the performance of the sector. No enhancement of the efficiency of the existing distribution system is envisaged by the proposed amendments,” said Dubey.

He also pointed out the presence of some unethical practices, where the thrust on capacity addition in private sector would lead to shutting down or backing out that would enable the private sector thermal stations to operate at optimum or full load.

This would be in spite of the fact that the State-owned thermal power stations could supply surplus power during parts of or most of the year.

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