TN: CPI(M) Launches Campaign Against Smart Meters, Urges State Govt to Abandon Project
CPI(M) Tamil Nadu secretary K Balakrishnan signs off the campaign
Chennai: The smart electricity meter project is not a very smart project, claims the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which has questioned whether the project, introduced by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government and being pushedin full speed, is a reasonable project for state governments and the people of India.
The party, which has launched a state-wide campaign, alleged that the Union government was forcing state governments to implement the project with the aim of privatising state-run electricity boards (SEBs).
“The (Narednra) Modi government is forcing all states to install smart meters and is threatening to withhold funding if they oppose it,” said the CPI(M), which is running a signature campaign in Tamil Nadu demanding that the Dravida MunnetraKazhagam (DMK)-led state government should stop the ongoing implementation of the project. So far, smart meters have been installed in 1.4 lakh houses.
Since last week, the CPI(M) cadre has being going door-to-door across districts in Tamil Nadu, collecting signatures and highlighting the implications of the project.
The electricity sector as a service sector should not be privatised, CPI(M) members said during the campaign, adding that the DMK government should completely abandon the smart meter project, which cuts off subsidies given to the poor and to farmers.
Party members and supporters also held protest demonstrations prior to submitting the demands and signatures to the taluks or municipality-level electricity board officials.
Protest against smart meters in Rajakkamangalam panchayat in Nagercoil
“The BJP government has handed over the manufacturing and supply of smart meters to the private sector. The work of smart meter maintenance and electricity bill collection are also given to private companies,” the party said.
The CPI(M), however, has not rejected the smart meter in toto; the party states that the meter has the potential to accurately predict the amount of electricity consumed and to determine the tariff accordingly as per sector -- agriculture, industry, residence, commercial establishments and other power sites of consumption.
However, it said it was rejecting the project because from the start, it is being pushed with the aim of opening the doors to the private sector in power distribution and tariff fixing. The party has accused the Union government of implementing the project for the sake of increasing the profit of private players.
At present, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) carries out the tasks of electricity calculation, electricity bill collection, resolving problems arising in electricity calculation, repairing the metre and supplying electricity. All these would be shifted to private hands as the smart meter project gets implemented, the CPI(M) said.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala has announced that it will not implement this project and continues to document the metres through the government’s electricity board.
The CPI(M), CPI, Congress and other parties have also strongly opposed the Electricity Amendment Bill when it was tabled in Parliament.
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