First priority 'Draft Electricity Bill'

Vol 4, PW 18 (11 Oct 00) People & Policy

One of Suresh Prabhu's first priorities will be to guide the long-awaited 'Electricity Bill' onto the statute books.

Petrowatch learns the 'Bill' has been finalised and a seventh draft is now sitting in the Prime Minister's Office awaiting cabinet approval. It will be Prabhu's job to take the 'Bill' to cabinet before it is tabled in parliament.

In May this year the Prime Minister's Office placed the 'Bill' before a specially selected 'Group of Ministers'. Amendments suggested by the ministers have been incorporated into the bill now sitting in the Prime Minister's Office.

Power ministry officials tell Petrowatch Prabhu is keen to submit the draft to cabinet for approval. It is unclear if it will be modified further between now and the time it takes to get to the cabinet.

When on the statute books, the 'Electricity Bill' will provide comprehensive legislation to replace the existing Electricity Supply Act of 1948, the Indian Electricity Act of 1910 and the Electricity Regulatory Commissions Act of 1998. The National Council for Applied Economic Research prepared it on a mandate from the power ministry.

Its principle objective is to transform the Indian power sector from a state dominated industry to a market driven industry. One of its prime features is to give state governments the power torestructure their (bankrupt) state electricity boards by separating transmission, generation and distribution activities into separate companies.