Our Bureau

New Delhi, May 17

THE Centre has decided to extend by six months the June 9, 2005 deadline for unbundling of State Electricity Boards (SEBs), as mandated by the Electricity Act 2003.

Following a three-hour-long meeting with Left party representatives led by the Communist Party of India's General Secretary, Mr A. B. Bardhan, here on Tuesday, the Power Minister, Mr P.M. Sayeed, said the Government would consider taking steps to address the concerns raised by the Left parties regarding the provision of elimination of cross-subsidies in the Act.

The Left parties had called for a review of several provisions in the Electricity Act 2003, including the deadline for unbundling of all the SEBs and the issue of elimination of cross-subsidy across consumer tariffs in States. This was the third meeting between Mr Sayeed and the Left party leaders on the issue of review of the Act.

Following the meeting, Mr Bardhan said that the issues raised by the Left parties were discussed at length and that in light of the discussions, the Left Coordination Committee meeting would take up the issue of calling off the nationwide strike of electricity unions on May 31.

Mr Sayeed also assured the Left party members that the Centre's role in the rural electrification activities would be suitably provided through an amendment in the Act. The Left parties had been demanding a more proactive role by the Centre in the area of rural electrification. "The Government would take care of the concerns regarding the misperceptions about the creation of an urban-rural divide in the Act," Mr Sayeed said.

He said during the next six months, the Government would continue the process of review of the provisions related to reorganisation and restructuring of the SEBs in the Electricity Act, 2003 based on the status and the impact of its implementation so far.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated May 18, 2005)
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