State electricity board workers go on strike over privatisation
Most areas in Jamshedpur and Ranchi have plunged into darkness after employees of Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) called an indefinite strike to protest privatisation.
To control the situation, the Jharkhand state government has invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).JSEB recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) and Tata Power for power distribution in Ranchi and Jamshedpur, respectively. Prashant Chaturvedi, secretary, Jharkhand State Electricity Employee Association, alleges that the entire JSEB staff was kept in dark about the distribution of franchisee to private hands for 15 years. “Altogether eight employee associations of the JSEB are participating in the strike,” says Chaturvedi.
However, during the winter session of the Assembly today, chief minister Arjun Munda apprised the House that JSEB employees were informed well in advance about the privatisation in both the cities.
Senior officials of the Jharkhand State Electricity Employee Association say the government is planning to supply electricity at the cost of Rs 1.78 and Rs 2.63 in Ranchi and Jamshedpur, respectively. The government will supply electricity at a subsidised rate. “Distribution at such a low cost is an effort to bankrupt entire JSEB,” says Chaturvedi.
Government refutes the allegation. The revenue sharing in terms of transmission and loss will be shared by the government and private players in the ratio of 80:20. JSEB chairperson S N Verma refused to speak anything on losses. He said that the MoU has been signed as per the norms specified by the Central Electricity Act of 2003.
To allay frayed tempers, JSEB invited striking employees for negotiation. Till the time of filing the report, employee associations had refused any negotiations with JSEB officials. Association is ready for negotiation in the presence of chief secretary only. Government IS fearing sabotage at power sub-stations by striking employees. It has issued orders to increase security at all JSEB installations.
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