Privatizing power distribution

Published at August 10, 2018 03:29 AM 0Comment(s)1959views


Privatizing power distribution

The state government has decided to privatize the power distribution after State Administrative Council’s nod to engage a New Delhi-based company for installing and maintaining meters, generating bills and procuring infrastructure. The official spokesman said that the decision was taken to reduce the AT&C losses. With no respite in transmission losses over the years, the matter has been on cards for a long time now. However, privatization of power distribution and awarding it to a New Delhi based firm needs also to be measured on other yardsticks including the employment. As the report about the privatization suggests installing and maintaining meters, generating bills and procuring infrastructure are said to be handed over a private firm. There is no doubt the transmission losses recorded in the state have been high and power pilferage has been a constant irritant, but will privatization and that too to a non-state firm address all the problems and not create additional ones –  needs to be taken into account. Installation of meters can be done by using the services of the local staff and it does not seem to be an issue. It is the theft in the shape of illegal power connections that is the main hurdle, besides many government departments are among those with pending electricity amounting in lakhs of rupees in the past. The accountability is an issue not only with the power development department but with almost every state department. Instead of making efforts to weed out the corrupt officials, the government is trying to axe a portion of the institution that for decades has provided employment to the local population, the state subjects. Even if privatization of the distribution system bring down the power pilferage in the state, how can the government or any private firm convince the people that it is not going to exploitive. The first preference for any private firm is profit, whereas in public sector enterprises are duty bound to provide services to the people with less regard to make any profit. Still there does not seem to be any clear picture on what is going to happen with the PDD staff that has been looking after these services. The picture also seems to be grim because we have witnessed cases where poor people engaged on ad hoc basis got electrocuted, died or suffered serious injuries. The department rarely showed any concern towards the field staff or laborers hired to do these difficult jobs. The decision does not make any sense because if corruption and accountability is the issue then there is hardly any field or domain that does not need privatization going by the same yardstick.

 

   

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