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Power strike threat

Ranchi, Jan. 15: Power unions today described the decision to split Jharkhand State Electricity Board into distribution and generation arms as a “fraud”, threatening to strike work from February 11 unless all staff were given the status of state government employees.

Apart from demanding government service conditions, the unions, claiming to represent over 3,500 workers, also want the board to scrap the decision to hand over power supply and distribution systems at Ranchi and Jamshedpur to private parties.

“A handful of representatives of some minor and unregistered power unions were coerced to sign an agreement last month endorsing the unbundling of the state owned JSEB. These minor unions do not represent all power employees. A deliberate fraud has been committed by the state energy department and JSEB and hence we reject the state government’s January 6, 2014 notification unbundling JSEB into four separate companies,” said Prashant Chaturvedi, convenor of JSEB Engineers, Officers and Employees Co-ordination Committee.

Others who were present during the announcement included representatives of Power Engineers Service Association, Jharkhand State Electric Supply Workers Union, Jharkhand Vidyut Karmachari Sangh, Takniki Padadhikari Sangh and Jharkhand United Workers Union.

A strike notice, signed by these representatives, has also been handed over to the managing director Jharkhand Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd, the new holding company.

Chaturvedi argued that they had pointed out that since the state government had agreed to take over all of JSEB’s liabilities, it needed to take the responsibility of paying salaries and other benefits.

“However instead of discussing these issues with us, the state government and JSEB committed a fraud by coercing some insignificant unions to agree to the unbundling process,” Chaturvedi alleged.

On December 30 last year, the state cabinet approved the unbundling of JSEB into four new entities — Jharkhand Urja Vikas Nigam and three subsidiaries Jharkhand Vidyut Utpadan Nigam, Jharkhand Vidyut Vitaran Nigam and Jharkhand Vidyut Sancharan Nigam.

Subsequently on January 6, a formal notification giving effect to the cabinet decision was issued by the state energy department.

“Another major fraud has been committed by a December 2012 agreement which provides for handing over power supply and distribution systems at Ranchi and Jamshedpur to Calcutta Electric Supply Company and Tata Power, respectively. The assertion of state energy department that revenue collections will increase as a result is a deliberate lie and a complete myth,” Chaturvedi alleged.

At present, around 500 MW is generated by Patratu Thermal and Tenughat Vidyut Nigam against a normal demand of over 1,050 MW. As a result, both CESC and Tata Power will be compelled to buy power at higher rates from outside sources to ensure uninterrupted supply to Ranchi and Jamshedpur.

Power bought at higher rates, Chaturvedi explained, would lead to abnormal increase in costs and effect consumers adversely.

“Even the principal accountant general (audit) of Jharkhand has raised a number of objections to the decision to hand over power distribution to private parties,” he alleged.


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