Tata Power and Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) have signed separate agreements with the Jharkhand government on Tuesday to take over the power distribution system in the steel city Jamshedpur and the state capital, Ranchi.
In protest against handing over the power distribution, billing, maintenance and other related assignments to the two private power utilities (Tata Power and CESC) all the nine unions of the Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) have started wildcat strike soon after signing of the agreements.
The striking employees gathered outside the secretariat building where the agreements were signed. They shouted slogans against handing over power distribution from the power board to private power utilities.The police dispersed the agitators from the spot.
JSEB chairman S N Verma said the wildcat strike by a section of employees was “illegal”. He informed the police to tackle the unruly behaviour of the striking unions.
The agreements between the state government and the two power utilities (Tata Power and CESC) were signed in presence of the chief minister Arjun Munda. On behalf of the state government, the energy secretary Vimal Kirti Singh signed the agreement.
On behalf of the Tata Power, senior general manager V Singla signed the agreement. From the CESC’s side the agreement was signed by its managing director Dilip Singh and executive director R Banerjee.
After signing agreements, the energy secretary told media that both the power utilities (Tata Power.and CESC) would start functioning within next three months .He said the steps taken by the government in handing over the power distribution system to two private agencies would be beneficial both for the consumers and the state power board (JSEB). The steps taken by the government in handing over the power distribution services to the Tata Power and the CESC should not be considered as a move towards privatisation.
Energy secretary said that with handing over the services to the two power agencies, the revenue of the JSEB would be increased by eliminating illegal power connections and power thefts that were being done with manipulation of the metres by a section of consumers.
An official of the Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) said CESC will have to do lot of works, like setting up of office establishments before introducing the services in Ranchi. However, Tata Power will not face any difficulty in introducing the services in Jamshedpur as it has required infrastructures that needed for power distribution related works, he added.
Several consumers when contacted by Business Standard expressed satisfaction over the agreements signed with the Tata Power and CESC.
They said that were frustrated with the services of the JSEB for the last ten years.
They further said the state had received fourteen chairmen within last eleven years and most of them were appointed from bureaucrats .The consumers of the JSEB were not received their due services from the state power board. JSEB’s services to consumers started deterioration since the constitution of the board in 2001.
The lapses in the power board was due to frequent changes of the chairmen and board members.The present chairman S N Verma is the 15th chairman of the JSEB and he joined hardly a year ago on deputation from Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited. After his joining consumers were receiving some services from the power board, they said.