The Telegraph
Sunday , October 28 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Board rejig unrest
- Power officials fight privatisation bid

Patna, Oct. 27: Officials of Bihar State Electricity Board, cutting across levels, are opposed to the cabinet’s decision to approve the transfer scheme for distribution of assets, liabilities and human resource of the board among five new companies.

The opposition comes despite the cabinet’s assurance that the service terms and conditions of the power board engineers and employees would not be altered. However, the engineers and employees termed the decision as “unfortunate” and said it was neither in the “interest of staff nor consumers in future”. They are apprehensive about getting provident fund (PF), pension and other benefits once the board gets fully restructured, as the new entities would be run on the basis of profit and loss under the Companies Act.

According to the Central Electricity Act, 2003, state governments are supposed to carry out power sector reforms. The electricity boards would have to be broken up and restructured into companies under the Companies Act, 1956.

Power Engineers’ Service Association (Pesa) general secretary Arvind Prasad told The Telegraph: “We support the government’s progressive policy decision so long as the terms and conditions of board officials/employees are not altered. But if there is slight deviation from its promise, we will oppose the privatisation process tooth and nail.”

Even senior officers are sceptical. “Our apprehension is based on facts. The reality is that board does not maintain the funds for payment of PF. The question is when the board’s management will go into the hands of a new company, why and how it will pay the PF, the funds for which is not maintained by the board?” a senior official of the board, preferring anonymity, said.

But Bihar Jharkhand Rajya Vidyut Parishad Field Kamgar Union general secretary Amarendra Mishra termed the decision as “unfortunate” and would adversely affect the employees’ interest in future.

Chakradhar Singh, general secretary of Bihar State Electric Supply Workers Union, said: “The government’s assurance regarding service conditions is completely false. Once the board is bifurcated, the structure of these companies will be changed, wherein the state government will have no say at all and these companies will dictate their own terms.”