STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: JKPCC Vice President and former Minister Raman Bhalla on Saturday expressed concern over proposed move of government to privatize power distribution sector in Jammu and Kashmir, saying the measure will impinge on people’s right to free energy.Bhalla said the ongoing situation and lack of revenue sources have broken the back of J&K’s economy and that the Privatization of power distribution will further push people to wall.“The measure will majorly hit the BPL consumers, and middle class, and farmers who have already been at the receiving end due to the untoward situation prevailing in J&K. As per the new proposed privatization measure, a central enforcement authority will be set up which will disempower the regulatory commissions and will further add to the centralization of power authority in wake of no consideration for problems faced by locals,” he said.This was observed by former Minister after visiting several areas of Gandhi Nagar constituency as a part of his continuous campaign to reach aggrieved people facing serious brunt of Covid-19 second wave in J&K.Terming the proposed measure as draconian and anti poor, Bhalla said the proposed privatization will snatch the access to electricity from economically challenged sections of the society.“The decision is solely a prerogative of a popularly elected government,” he said adding, “Economy activity in J&K has shrunk since 2014 and the latest COVID-19 induced lockdown. Private players are cash strapped, employability is at its lowest ebb, and inflation has already broken the back of middle class. It is highly unbecoming of the government to come up with such measures when the economy of J&K is struggling. Far from proving succor to the people, the government is adamant on sucking the life and blood of people. How are people going to pay exorbitant power tariff? People associated with handicrafts, agriculture and its allied sectors, tourism sector, small scale industries and construction sector are reeling under huge debts. At a time when a vast majority of people in J&K is struggling to make both ends meet, the strategy of the government should have been to lend them a helping hand, not pushing them to wall, with such measures.”“It is distressing to see government clueless on augmentation on renewable resources of energy in J&K despite having a vast potential in solar energy, wind energy and geo thermal energy. No significant headway has been made on making biogas a popular and viable source of energy in rural areas,” he said.Bhalla said the government in a bid to generate more revenue will be pushing the already suffering people of J&K to wall. He said the move will further hamper the growth of viable manufacturing sector in J&K.He observed the privatization will not provide solutions to the problems of the power sector in J&K, saying that far from helping rescue the viable sector it will have a major impact on the whole economic activity of J&K. The real problem lies in the distribution losses, sluggish work on new power projects and laying of new transmission lines, rather than relegating the distribution sector to private players.Government should take corrective measures to stop the seepage in terms of distribution losses and collection of unpaid bills from various government departments, Bhalla said.
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