Port Blair, Jan 8: The Non-Gazetted Govt. Officers’ Association, the largest and only one recognised service Association of Govt. employees in these Islands has demanded immediate halting of the ongoing process to privatise the power sector in the Islands. In a letter dated 24th December,2020 addressed to the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the General Secretary of the Association Shri T S Sreekumar said the proposed privatization of Electricity Department of the islands is not viable or not in public interest considering the peculiar conditions of the islands.

The Association said service associations, trade unions and political parties of the islands are unanimously opposing the latest move of Central Government and A & N Administration to privatise the Electricity Department and appealed the Hon’ble Prime Minister to direct the concerned authorities to stop the ongoing fast-track process to corporatize and privatise the Department forth with.

The Association pointed that by this move of the government without taking the stake holders to confidence is jeopardising the future of around 3000 employees and workers of the electricity department. The employees and workers do not believe the assurances from the authorities on their future as they are well aware of the experience of various other sectors which were privatised by Govt. of India earlier.

The Association also expressed grave concern on the lack of transparency in this privatisation drive as the A & N Administration hadn’t conducted any kind of formal discussion/communication with trade unions, political parties or public organisations even though it is a big decision that is going to affect not only the employees and workers of Electricity Department but also the lives of common people of the Islands. The wide-spread fear among consumers about possible steep hike in power tariff after Privatisation was also brought to the notice of the Prime Minister.

The Privatisation of power sector will adversely affect the employment opportunities of local youth as the private players rather engage cheap labour from mainland, as their only aim would be maximum profit. Also the interest of marginalised sections of these islands like Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Classes (ST&OBC) would be hampered as they will lose the reservation benefit after privatisation.

The General Secretary of the Association also invited the attention of the Prime Minister to large investments made by the Government in power sector of the Islands in recent times. Huge investments in digital meters, solar energy, etc are mentioned in the letter. He recalled the Hon’ble Prime Minister that he himself had laid foundation stone of a 50 MW LNG based power project at Hopetown on 30th December,2018 and assured the Islanders about availability of cheap and clean power. So the proposed privatisation at this juncture is mysterious. Concluding the letter he also said privatisation of a core area like electricity in this remotest, fragmented and sensitive area A & N Islands is not viable or advisable and appealed the Prime Minister to direct the authorities in the Govt. of India and A &N Administration to stall the ongoing fast-track process to privatise the power sector of the Islands.

Meanwhile a meeting of the Non Gazetted Govt. Officers Association recently held at Port Blair expressed solidarity with the ongoing struggles of employees and workers of Electricity Department against its privatisation. The meeting further decided to mobilise the employees of other Government departments also against the proposed privatisation of the power sector of the Islands.