Stalin speaks out against Centre’s Electricity Bill, says breaches principles of federalism

Stalin wrote to PM Modi and to non-BJP CMs that this Bill would severely threaten the livelihoods of lakhs of farmers.
Stalin speaks out against Centre’s Electricity Bill, says breaches principles of federalism
Stalin speaks out against Centre’s Electricity Bill, says breaches principles of federalism
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DMK chief MK Stalin wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and non-BJP Chief Ministers across the country over the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020 on Thursday. He called the Bill a ‘breach of principles of federalism’, and urged the Prime Minister to withdraw it. The proposed amendment seeks to curb subsidies like free power to farmers and has led to fears of centralisation. 

The Tamil Nadu Opposition Leader wrote that the proposed law would severely threaten the livelihoods of lakhs of farmers and urged the Prime Minister to abandon the proposal to cancel free electricity for farmers.

“Further, in the wake of the pandemic and its economic repercussions, not only is this an irresponsible decision of the central Government but also is an attempt to divert attention from the most pressing issue at hand – the effective management of the COVID crisis,” he wrote. 

Reminding the Prime Minister that electricity remained a subject of the Concurrent List as per the Constitution, Stalin wrote, “...the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020 has been structured to transgress the states’ legislative powers in both the State and Concurrent Lists given in the Seventh Schedule under Article 246 of the Constitution of India.”

The DMK chief pointed to specific provisions in the proposed amendment that went against the principles of federalism and encroached the rights of states, including:

  • Centre’s direct control over the States’ Electricity Regulatory Commissions.

  • Selection of the chairman and members of State Electricity Commission by the "Selection Committee" of Central Electricity Regulatory Commission.

  • Appointment of only two chief Secretaries for the States as Members on rotation basis in the "Selection Committee" in Alphabetical Order – that too for a one-year term. 

  • If there is no chairperson and Member in a State Commission to perform its function, the power of the Central government to entrust the functions to any other State Commission. 

  • Taking away state's adjudicatory rights over Power procurement, sales and transmission contracts, by enforcing Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority. 

  • No representation for the States in the Electricity Contract Enforcement Authority.

Using the people's mandate given to the BJP to lead the government for the next five years to step into the states’ legislative power does not bode well for a healthy Centre-State relationship, the DMK chief said. 

“This centralisation of state agencies only to privatise the electricity later on is totally unacceptable,” he added.

Stating that free power supply for all farmers in Tamil Nadu was a key pillar of economic growth, Stalin said that the policy had protected lakhs of farmers while also controlling food inflation.

Stalin addressed the letter to the Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Delhi, Kerala, Rajasthan, Odisha, Maharashtra, Punjab, Puducherry and Chhattisgarh. He requested them to support the efforts taken by DMK to protect the rights of states.

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