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‘UP government may not withdraw Cabinet decision on power distribution franchisees’

The Yogi Adityanath government may not withdraw its Cabinet decision on handing over electricity distribution of five cities to private franchisees.

lucknow Updated: Apr 09, 2018 10:35 IST
Brajendra K Parashar
Brajendra K Parashar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
UP Sanyukt Karmchari Sangharsh Samiti,ISPS,Yogi Adityanath
The power employees’ unions rose up in arms in protest immediately after the Yogi Adityanath-headed cabinet on March 16 gave its nod for the proposal seeking to hand over electricity distribution in five cities to private franchisees.(Representative image)

The Yogi Adityanath government may not withdraw its Cabinet decision on handing over electricity distribution of five cities to private franchisees, a senior energy department official said.

The official, who refused to be named, cited chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s statement that there was a difference between privatisation and private investment as an indication of the government not being in a mood to rollback its decision.

“As chief minister clarified on Friday, privatization and private investment are two different things,” the official said.

“Handing over power distribution of any city is not privatization at all, but only a bid to get much needed private investment into the sector as was done in Agra in 2010,” he said.

People familiar with the matter said the government, at the most, might go slow on the Cabinet’s March 16 decision for some time and do nothing more than that.

Meanwhile, the power employees on Saturday resumed normal duty, ending their over 20-day agitation after they were given an assurance in writing that privatisation will not be done in the power sector anywhere in the state. The power staff took this assurance for granted that not doing privatization automatically meant not introducing distribution franchisee system as well.

The power employees’ unions rose up in arms in protest immediately after the Yogi Adityanath-headed cabinet on March 16 gave its nod for the proposal seeking to hand over electricity distribution in Lucknow, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Meerut and Moradabad to private franchisees.

The UP Sanyukt Karmchari Sangharsh Samiti that was spearheading the agitation had threatened to give a call for an indefinite strike if other forms of protest failed to get the government to withdraw the decision.

The government finally held a meeting with the Sangharsh Samiti leaders on Wednesday, forging a ‘face-saving’ formula for both the sides.

The written agreement signed between the Samiti leaders and principal secretary, energy, Alok Kumar in the presence of energy minister Srikant Sharma said the tenders floated for the integrated service provider service (ISPS) in seven districts had been recalled after objections and no privatisation would be done anywhere without taking the employees into confidence.

Significantly, the agreement did not have a word on the proposed introduction of distribution franchisee in five cities over which the power employees had started the agitation.

Sangharsh Samiti leader Shailendra Dubey said, “When we have been given in writing that no privatisation will be done and reforms will be made within the present structure of discoms, it automatically means the Cabinet’s decision on franchisee will no longer be implemented.”

Sources in the energy department, however, said the employees’ leaders had been told during the meeting on Wednesday that rolling back the Cabinet decision was not possible.

“We have only said privatisation will not be done and we never said we would (do it). But appointing a private company as our franchisee to supply electricity in a city for the rate as applicable to any other city in the state is not privatization,” they said.

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 10:35 IST