Bhubaneswar: Cutting across party lines, members of the Odisha Assembly on Wednesday sought a review of a 20-year-old agreement between the state government and the AES Corporation, alleging discrimination by the US-based company towards a section of employees of the OPGC.
The issue was raised during zero hour by ruling BJD member Soumya Ranjan Patnaik who alleged that many workers of Odisha Power Generation Corporation (OPGC) are "being treated differently" by the present management run by the foreign firm.
As part of its reform in the energy sector, the Odisha government, in 1999, had divested 49 per cent of its stake in OPGC to the AES Corporation.
According to the agreement, the AES would manage the day-to-day management of the power producer even as the states energy secretary would remain as the chairman of the board of directors.
"I also understand that the foreign company may withdraw itself from the project," Patnaik said, adding that the Odisha government should take the matter seriously as it is closely linked to the interest of the state.
Leader of opposition Pradipta Kumar Naik of BJP also expressed concern over how the power utility is being managed by the US company.
"Even though the state has more share in the OPGC, it is being run by the foreign company," Naik said, demanding a review of the agreement.
He claimed the employees appointed by the AES management are getting higher remuneration compared to those engaged by previous management of the company.
"This is a pure discrimination," the BJP leader said.
Congress legislature party leader Narasingha Mishra also said that there should be "no legal restriction on reviewing the pact".
"You were the states energy minister and had said that the agreement could not be reviewed. But as a professional lawyer, I can say there should be no problem to review the agreement as the state government has majority stake in the project," Mishra told Speaker S N Patro.
BJD members Kishore Mohanty and Amar Prasad Satpathy also alleged that a section of employees of the power producer had been staging protest against the "whimsical management" for the last two days.
They demanded state governments intervention to save the project.