Lucknow power distribution goes in private hands
The Yogi Adityanath-led cabinet on Friday approved a proposal handing electricity distribution in five Uttar Pradesh cities -- Lucknow, Meerut, Moradabad, Varanasi and Gorakhpur -- to private franchisees, a decision that has sparked a sharp reaction from power employees’ unions and consumer forums.
These cities follow Agra in adopting the franchisee model; for nearly a decade, Torrent Power has been supplying power to the city.
A government spokesman said the decision to introduce the franchisee model for power distribution in the five cities was taken to make the state’s power sector financially self-reliant, by checking line losses and getting the required capital investment for improving supply. He said there will be no change in the tariff pattern.
“The government got an independent study conducted in Agra and found that the private franchisee there had invested Rs 800 crore, line losses had drastically reduced and consumer satisfaction has gone up on all parameters,” he said.
The spokesman said the employees of the state-run utility, UP Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL), in the cities where the franchisee system is proposed, have an option to work with the franchisee, with its consent, on deputation, with no reduction in their salary.
The employees have decided to call an emergency meeting in Lucknow to chalk out their next course of action. “We appeal to the chief minister to immediately withdraw this decision in the larger interest of consumers and employees,” All India Power Employees’ Federation chairman Shailendra Dubey said.
Avadhesh Verma, chairman of the UP Rajya Vidyut Upbhokta Parishad, said the franchisee model would go against the interests of consumers. “We will oppose it at all levels,” he said.
Under the franchisee model, as in Agra, UPPCL will invite bids and the franchisees that are selected will be handed over the entire electricity network of the city for the next 25 years, or as agreed upon. The franchisees will give a fixed revenue to the UPPCL.