Power minister RK Singh introduced The Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022 in the Lok Sabha on Monday. Meanwhile, the minister has also requested the Bill to be sent to standing committee on energy for examination.
The Bill is aimed at allowing the privatisation of electricity on the line of communication. If the bill is passed in both the houses, customers will have the option to choose electricity supplier just like one can choose for telephone, mobile and internet services.
The bill seeks to amend section 42 of the Electricity Act to facilitate non-discriminatory open access to the distribution network of a distribution licensee.
It also seeks to amend section 14 of the Act to facilitate usage of distribution networks by all licensees under provisions of non-discriminatory open access with the objective of enabling competition, enhancing efficiency of distribution licensees for improving services and ensuring sustainability of the power sector.
As a result, discoms will be able to use power distribution network of other licensees. The bill also provides for insertion of section 60A aimed at enabling management of power purchase and cross-subsidy in case of multiple distribution licensees in the same area of supply.
It also seeks to amend section 62 of the Act to make provisions vis-à-vis graded revision in tariff over a year besides mandatory fixing of maximum ceiling and minimum tariff by the appropriate commission. It provides for amending section 166 to strengthen the functions that will be discharged by the regulators.
The bill will also amend section 146 to convert rate of punishment from imprisonment or with fine to fine. The bill, as tabled, will also amend section 152 to facilitate decriminalisation of offence as it would be mandatory to accept compounding.
Soon after the Electricity (Amendment) Bill was introduced in the lower house of the Parliament, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed the bill “dangerous”. He also requested the Centre to not go ahead with this in haste and went onto claim this will benefit a few power distribution companies (discoms).
Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi, “Electricity Amendment Bill is being brought in Lok Sabha today. This law is very dangerous. With this, instead of improving the power problem in the country, it will become more serious. People’s suffering will increase. Only a few companies will benefit. I appeal to the Centre not to bring this in haste.”
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said in a recent tweet, “Another attack on the rights of the states… Electricity Amendment Bill 2022… Strongly oppose the introduction of this bill in the Parliament… Central government should not consider the states as puppets, we will fight for our rights… from the road to the Parliament…”
Meanwhile, Union Power Minister RK Singh took to Twitter and clarified that the bill does not have any provisions that are detrimental to farmers.
He wrote, “Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022 is pro-people and for the growth of our economy. There is no change in subsidy provisions. The state can give any amount of subsidy, even free power to any category of consumers. No provisions affecting farmers. Stronger state electricity commissions to regulate all distribution companies, public or private. New safeguard against cherry picking.”
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