Mamata Banerjee writes a letter to the centre citing her dissatisfaction with the Electricity (Amendment) bill. She claims that the states were not appropriately consulted, and the opposing reservations were not considered.
The CM is “stunned” at such a display of national ignorance and even proceeds to call it “anti-people”.
WHAT IS THE ELECTRICITY (AMENDMENT) ACT?
The Electricity (Amendment) Act, 2020 seeks to propose amendments to the Electricity Act of 2003.
Under the original act, each state comprises its own State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC), which is responsible for power matters in the respective state.
The Amendment in the Act seeks to establish a national authority in place of separate selection panels.
The National Committee would deal with the sale, purchase, distribution, transmission and contract-related disputes. The bill was proposed to be moved last year, but objections from TMC led to its halt.
MAMATA BANERJEE LASHES OUT
The CM of Bengal has taken a rather powerful stance objecting to the amendment to the act and has asked the centre to “refrain from initiation of legislation”.
She voices her concerns, stating that establishing a national authority would directly result in the curtailment of state authority.
She highlights that implementation of the amendment would lead to a rise in capitalism at the cost of the state and would hinder and interfere with the interests of ordinary people.
She states that while it theoretically claims plural choices for consumers, it would only benefit the service providers in reality.
Mamata Bannerjee also mentioned in her letter that such a step would offer greater autonomy to the private sector. She considers such a step as an attack on the federal structure of India.
WHAT LIES AHEAD?
The legislation process in a highly complex and diverse nation such as India calls for the integration of various perspectives and an accepting attitude.
Electricity (Amendment) Bill advocates for a renewable energy approach and promises Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). This would transfer the government subsidies directly to the account of the beneficiaries, eliminating any “meddle” men.
At the same time, it also undermines state authority. A proper channel of communication between the state and centre to discuss, deliberate and consult the various dimensions of the act must be established.
The centre needs to consider the concerns and demands of the state before moving the bill forward. Transparent communication leads to harmonious centre-state relations and is, therefore, a matter of utmost importance.