'Electricity Bill, 2000' will be delayed

Vol 4, PW 15 (30 Aug 00) People & Policy

Kumaramangalam's death is certain to delay enactment of India's 'Electricity Bill, 2000', which is in the final stages of preparation.

"He wanted to introduce the draft Act in the monsoon session of parliament and get it referred to parliament's standing committee on energy and have it passed by November or December in the winter session," outgoing Maharashtra energy secretary Dr Pramod Deo tells Petrowatch, "Now, everything will lose its momentum." It's a fear echoed across the sector. "We don't know who the new minister will be and what sort of commitment he will have to the reform process," adds Deo, "Any new person will have to learn the subject, understand it and then act." In India new ministers generally need a month to familiarise themselves with their new brief.

The 'Electricity Bill, 2000', seeks to replace three existing laws: ' Indian Electricity Act, 1910'; the ' Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948'; and the ' Electricity Regulatory Commission Act, 1998'.Its aim is to 'unbundle' state electricity boards into separate generation, transmission and distribution companies.

Delay in its enactment is unlikely to impact progress of a separate 'Maharashtra Electricity Bill, 2000', which remains on track for enactment by the state Assembly in November, ahead of the central Act. The 'Maharashtra Electricity Bill, 2000' has an enabling provision to 'unbundle' the Maharashtra state electricity board.

The Administrative Staff College in Mumbai is preparing a draft copy of the Act, which will be circulated to labour unions for comments when ready.