Lucknow: The All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) on Thursday threatened to go on strike if the demands of farmers, who have been protesting against the three contentious Farm Laws passed by the Centre and the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2020, were not met within a week.
The AIPEF reportedly extended its support to the ongoing farmers' protest and appealed to the central government to scrap the recently-enacted laws. The engineers union said it will submit memorandums to the President of India and to all district collectors across the state on December 5, demanding the withdrawal of the three Farm Laws and condemning the use of water cannons and tear gas shells on the agitating farmers.
V.K. Gupta, spokesperson of the federation said: “All India Power Engineers Federation of Uttar Pradesh are in full support of the ongoing Kisan Andolan against the three Farm Laws passed by the current government for farmers. It requests the central government to scrap the laws in Parliament and protect the power subsidy of farmers by withdrawing the Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020 and standard bidding document.”
The struggle by the farmers is against the economic policy of the central government which is to favour the corporates and industry leaders to maximise their businesses and profits, at the cost of the farming community, he added.
Shailendra Dubey, chairman of the AIPEF, said that the power engineers of the country had strongly opposed the proposal by the government to eliminate subsidy in electricity tariff. He said that the proposal to end the electricity subsidy being given to farmers was also strongly opposed.
While the central government has proposed the procedure of DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer), the move would result in “snatching the subsidy” for free power to farmers, the AIPEF said.
The DBT proposal would lead to economic hardship for the farmers, who would have to pay the electricity bills incurred by tubewells to the discoms while there was no guarantee that the state would match the DBT payments, it said, adding that the electricity Bill must be withdrawn.
The present move by the government to introduce and implement the Farm Laws is a part of the overall strategy of the present central government to introduce privatisation at every step which amounts to practically selling the country bit by bit, it stated.
Gupta further said that the move to implement the farming laws in the name of economic reforms will actually benefit corporates and destroy the farmers, who will be deprived of due revenue from marketing of the food grains.
The policy of the NDA government to benefit corporates will not only destroy agricultural activity, it would also compromise the food security of the nation, it added.
UPSRTC to Protest for Farmers
Coming forward in support of the agitating farmers, the UPSRTC on Friday threatened to halt operations across the state from December 8 if the government fails to address concerns of the farming community.
The Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) is the apex body of transporters. The contractual drivers and conductors of UPSRTC will hold a token protest on Sunday in support of farmers in the state capital of Lucknow and in other districts under the banner of the UP Roadways Employees’ Union (UPREU). They UPSRTC workers will also raise the issue of the privatisation of roadways and contractual workers, who have not been made permanent for close to two decades now.