A meeting of the Left parties, CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc, was held in New Delhi on 2nd August, 2000. The following joint statement has been issued by the four parties:
Protest Day against anti-people power policy
Under the pressure of the World Bank and foreign finance capital, the power policies pursued under liberalisation in the past few years have resulted in the drive to dismantle the state electricity boards and to privatise the generation, transmission and distribution of power.
These policies which are being vigorously pursued by the BJP-led government at the Centre and imposed on the states is, heaping increased burdens on the people in the form of increased rates for electricity tariffs. No one is being spared the domestic consumers, the farmers or the small-scale industries and enterprises.
In the states which have blindly accepted the World Bank dictates, the last two years have seen a steep increase in the electricity rates. The worst example is Andhra Pradesh where the Chandrababu Naidu government has imposed an unprecedented hike in electricity rates for all categories. An ordinary family is now made to pay 3 to 4 times more for the minimum consumption of electricity required for domestic needs. The Left parties have been protesting against the savage hike for the past few months in a statewide agitation which has been met with brutal repression by the police.
In other states too, like Orissa, Maharashtra, Haryana and Rajasthan, the process of privatisation is underway with resultant increase in the rates of electricity for ordinary people. In Maharashtra, where the most scandalous agreement was made with Enron, a US multinational, the state electricity board is now buying power from Enron at Rs. 4.76 per unit.
The Vajpayee government is callously going ahead with the privatisation of power and allowing foreign companies to take over the assets of the state electricity boards. The cuts in public investment in the power sector in the past one decade have caused serious setback in the expansion of power generation.
The Left parties have decided to mobilise the people to oppose the national power policy which is detrimental to the interests of the country and the people. To oppose the new burdens being imposed on the people through the increased tariffs, to express solidarity with the movement in Andhra Pradesh and to support the employees of the power sector who are agitating against privatisation, the Left parties have decided to organise a national protest day.
The Left parties have called for 24th August to be observed all over the country as a protest day against the power policies which have been imposed on the country by foreign and mercenary interests and to demand that the Vajpayee government reverse these policies immediately.