Punjab chief minister says power reforms will continue

Tuesday, 22 July 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Monday asserted that any agitation by state power department employees would not deter his government from going ahead with reforms in the power sector.

"The government is not going to be cowed down by your agitational approach. You should be open minded and follow the path of mutual dialogue to resolve this issue amicably if you have any doubts," Singh told power workers at two separate meetings at Patiala, 80 km from here.

Singh said the proposed reforms were aimed at providing uninterrupted and quality power to consumers at affordable prices, besides giving a fillip to industrialisation to generate more employment opportunities.

He addressed meetings of the Punjab State Electricity Board Engineers Association and the Joint Forum of Employees, two bodies representing workers of the Punjab power department.

"Taking the issue of power reform to the streets was highly deplorable on the part of the employees and it will not serve any meaningful purpose," he said, referring to a stir by workers opposed to the reforms.

Dispelling the fears of the workers, Singh said his government had appointed the Delhi-based consultancy firm Ernst & Young to study the recommendations of the Haldea Committee, which had suggested ways for unbundling and corporatising of the state-run power utility.

The consultancy firm was likely to submit its report within three months, he noted.

The prosperous future of Punjab, he said, was more important and relevant than the "petty and vested interests" of workers' unions. "Neither me nor you are going live to any longer than 20-25 years but the future generations of Punjab will benefit immensely through these power reforms."

Singh asked representatives of the workers to develop a positive outlook and to view the situation in totality.

He also cautioned them not to overplay the failures of power sector reforms in states like Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh in order to substantiate their claim. In this regard, he highlighted the success of reforms in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Singh also asked power workers to help the authorities in checking the menace of power theft to make the power utility financially viable.

Source: IANS
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