The Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday voiced concern against the proposed amendments to the Electricity Act, 2003 and sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention to withdraw an amendment bill in this connection.
Chief Minister MK Stalin said the proposed amendments will have "far-reaching" implications for state DISCOMs and argued certain provisions will allow "unbridled access" to the private players in select areas.
"I learn that this amendment Bill proposes to delicense the distribution sector of electricity, by introducing a concept of Distribution Company and deemed registration of any such distribution company after 60 days of application. This step will give unbridled access to private players to supply power to select consumers and enable them to use the already laid out distribution network of the Public Sector Power Companies," he told PM Modi in a letter.
While the State PSUs carry the burden of investment in such networks, these private companies were being allowed to use the same without any investment or responsibility to maintain it, he added.
Further, such new private distribution companies would be able to selectively access all the high value customers in commercially viable areas and "this would amount to granting them a right to cherry pick profitable ventures without any social obligations," while State public sector utilities were left with the obligation of power supply to subsidised categories of consumers and servicing the economically backward/ rural areas, he added.
Flagging other proposed amendments to certain sections of the Act, by giving powers to the National Load Despatch Centre (NLDC) such as integrated operation of the power system and optimum scheduling of electricity across different States, he said these would amount to indirectly controlling many significant functionalities of the SLDCs/Discoms/State Governments.
The penalty leviable under Sec.142 for contravening provisions of the Act/directions or order of the Commission is also high, the chief minister said.
"In view of the above, I request your personal intervention to withdraw the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and allow the State owned distribution licensees to continue to supply quality power at affordable rates to the people," he urged PM Modi.