In Fight Against Privatisation of Power Sector, Indian Farmers To Protest If Electricity Bill Is Passed

The Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 aims to let private companies control the power distribution sector and possibly hike power rates for struggling farmers

New Delhi, August 5, 2022: Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the national farmers’ body, has warned the Indian government against passing the controversial Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 in the coming parliament session.

Indian farmers are likely to be deeply impacted financially if the bill is cleared as it would allow major private companies to grab control of the power distribution sector and be in a position to escalate electricity bills.

India’s struggling farmers, many of whom famously compelled the Indian government to roll back deregulation of the farming sector, fear the power bill could throw the doors open to profit-hungry private players who may hack farm subsidies.

The SKM has provisionally declared nationwide protests to be led by the farmers if the power bill is tabled or passed. The SKM’s stance aligns with the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers, which also denounces the bill.

The union cabinet has okayed the bill, which is now awaiting the parliament’s nod.

On December 9, 2021, the government had proposed in writing to hold discussions with farmer leaders about the bill, and only then proceed with it. But the discussions never happened.

“No such discussion has ever taken place in the last eight months. It is, therefore, a stark betrayal of the government’s own written assurances,” said farmer leader Darshan Pal.

“Cross-subsidy will be ended. Free or cheap electricity to farmers will end. The cost of production for farmers will rise. Power rates in rural and urban areas will rise tremendously. That apart, the jobs of electricity employees and engineers will be under threat,” said farmer leader Joginder Singh Ugrahan.

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