New Delhi: The Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 was on Monday introduced in the Lok Sabha amid vocal opposition, and the government then announced that it will be referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee where all concerns can be discussed.
Power Minister R K Singh accused the opposition MPs of spreading “false propaganda” against the Bill and said it was “pro-people”.
As Singh moved the Bill for introduction in the Lok Sabha, several opposition members raised objections. The Minister said the Bill will be sent to a Parliamentary Standing Committee where all concerns can be discussed.
RSP’s N K Premchandran called it “anti-farmer” and said it was against the federal character of the Constitution.
Congress’ Manish Tewari said the object of the Electricity Act was to protect consumers and supply electricity to all areas.
“This amendment substantially weakens the power of the state to achieve this objective by providing for multiple privately owned distribution companies,” he said.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) member A M Arif said detailed discussions should be held with states and also pointed out that withdrawal of the Bill was one of the key demands of farmers.
“SKM was assured it would be withdrawn,” he said.
Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also got up to speak but was told by Rajendra Agrawal who was in the chair that his colleague Manish Tewari had already spoken, triggering protests by opposition benches.
Soon Speaker Om Birla was back on the Chair.
Trinamool Congress’ Saugata Roy also mentioned the farmers’ protest and said the government had assured the Samyukt Kisan Morcha in writing that the Bill would be withdrawn. He called the Bill “anti-people”.
The Speaker asked the MP not to make a speech and to oppose the introduction of the Bill from a legal perspective.
Minister Singh argued that the Bill will not impact subsidies and farmers will continue to get free electricity.
The Bill was then introduced in the House, and the Minister said that the government intends to refer it to a Standing Committee.
The Bill aims to facilitate the entry of private companies in electricity distribution, which will enable power consumers to choose from multiple service providers, just like telecom services.