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No plan to privatise power utilities, says Balineni 

Source: 
New Indian Express

VIJAYAWADA: Energy Minister Balineni Srinivasa Reddy has clarified that there is no plan to privatise power utilities and said the State government will “strongly oppose” the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020, proposed by the Union government. He also said that the Rayalaseema Thermal Power Plant (RTPP) will not be sold to the NTPC and that it would be run under the aegis of the State government.

The minister held a meeting with the employees of power utilities, who have been staging a protest against the management of power utilities, at the Secretariat on Wednesday. Following the meeting, the minister briefed the media on the discussions held and appealed not to believe the propaganda that power companies would be privatised. He said that the power utilities would remain public sector units in the view of public interest. “The RTPP has been put in reserve shutdown temporarily as the demand has fallen during COVID-19 months. We will soon resume it,” the minister said.

The clarification comes after the AP State Power Employees JAC (APSPEJAC) has given multiple representations to the department demanding that the government reject the Centre’s initiatives to privatise/franchise state distribution companies (Discoms), drop the sale plan of RTPP, and raising other issues.

Govt to go ahead with 10K MW solar plants plan Regarding the 10,000 megawatts (MW) solar power plants for supplying free agriculture power, Balineni said that the government will not go back on its plan. The AP State Power Employees JAC has been requesting that the government drop its plan to engage private players under the build operate transfer (BOT) model and entrust the responsibility with APGENCO/AP Green Energy Corporation Ltd. According to the JAC, the State already has an installed capacity of 20,081 MW and the peak demand is 10,207 MW. Of the peak demand, agriculture consumption is around 30 per cent. When there is double generation capacity compared to the demand, the employees wondered if another 10,000 MW plants were needed.

“We will go ahead with the 10,000 MW solar power plants as they are for implementing dedicated free power for farmers for 30 years. The tenders will be floated next month. The demand will increase in the coming years and the project is envisaged to meet the same,” the minister clarified. He pointed out that the government was paying over `8,000 crore a year towards agriculture power subsidy. “We will be saving some of the subsidy we pay with the proposed project,” he observed.

The minister also revealed that the issues pertaining to the employees were discussed. “We have decided to consider the pending appointments on compassionate grounds to the family members of regular employees who deceased recently. Regarding the payment of dearness allowance (DA), we will discuss it with the Chief Minister and let the JAC know by next Wednesday. The Centre has withheld the DA hike pertaining to January, 2020, July, 2020, and January, 2021. The State also has issued an order in this regard. So, we will have to discuss it with the Chief Minister and take a call.

The other issues raised by the JAC will also be discussed,” the minister said, adding that the Chief Minister was committed to resolve all the issues pertaining to the power sector and that there was no need for the employees to worry. The fixing of meters to motors of farm pumpsets is to ensure free nine-hour uninterrupted and qualitative power to farmers during daytime, the energy minister said, and appealed to people not to fall for the “misleading” claims made by TDP leaders.

Power employees to continue strike The AP State Power Employees Joint Action Committee (APSPEJAC) announced that it would continue its agitation, scheduled till November 16, until the government gives in writing the assurances it has made in the meeting held on Wednesday. “The government said that it needs sometime for fruitful results. We have requested assurance in writing on the same. Our protests will continue as announced until the assurances given by the government are given to us in writing along with the time-bound implementation of the same,” chairman of the JAC P Chandrasekhar told the media, after a four-hour-long meeting.

Govt to pass resolution in Assembly? The State government is likely to pass a resolution opposing the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020, in the State Assembly. The assurance is said to have been made by the energy minister during the meeting with the power employees JAC. The JAC demanded that a resolution be passed in the Assembly like the ones adopted by 11 States

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