The divisional administration Jammu has requested the Army to assist the government in restoration of electricity after a dialogue with the agitating Power Development Department (PDD) employees has reportedly failed to break ice.
The agitation by the PDD employees has left hundreds of consumers across Jammu and Kashmir to reel under darkness as the employees have decided to suspend all the works till their demands are fulfilled.
According to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), Divisional Commissioner Jammu has shot a letter to General Officer in Commanding (GoC) of Yol based 9 Corps, which is responsible for Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts and GOC of Nagrota based 16 Corps, which have jurisdiction over rest seven districts of Jammu division including Chenab Belt and Pir Panchal region, to assist the administration to man electric installations/supplies in Jammu division.
“It is brought to your notice that due to a strike by Electricity Department personnel in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, essential services have been severely affected in the Jammu region. We would like to hereby requisition the Indian army to assist in restoration of said essential services by provisioning manpower to man critical electricity stations and water supply sources,” the letter by Divisional Commissioner Jammu Dr Raghav Langer reads.
Later in the evening, Dr Raghav Langer addressed a press conference and clarified the government’s stand on the issues. He said that the government’s decisions regarding the power sector are progressive to bring reforms.
Divisional Commissioner claimed that the government’s intent is to ensure 24X7 quality power supply in Jammu and Kashmir. “I ensure that the government is here to work with sincerity to protect public interests. As far as the concern of agitating employees union, it has been already clarified that none of the service conditions, the pay structures, the salaries and the pensionary benefits, would be altered to the disadvantage for any employee of PDD. From the last 24 months, all employees get timely salaries and other benefits.”
Mukesh Singh, ADGP said that several rounds of talks were held and many grievances have been addressed on spot while many policy issues have been taken for discussions with higher ups.
“We appealed to the striking employees to call off strike and in the meantime we are also taking help from the army and other agencies for restoration of power. If anyone tries to hurdle the power restoration, they will not be spared,” Singh said.
MD JKPSL said that 55 percent of power has been restored in Jammu division and the department is working to restore the remaining 45 percent.
“The technical groups of our partner are working with us and also provide training to manpower of the army to restore all feeders,” the MD said.
Army Takes over
Government has now deployed specialized teams of Military Engineering Services (MES) on a number of power receiving stations across Jammu zone with both Army and Police have also been deployed on these stations to resist any kind of protest by the employees of Power Development Department of Jammu and Kashmir government.
On Divisional Commissioner Jammu’s request late evening hours, teams of the Engineering Wing of Army referred to as Military Engineering Services have been taken to power stations in protection of Army and Police. The wing of Army has started their efforts to restore electricity.
In Jammu, a number of receiving stations are presently under the control of Military Engineering services.’
Quick reaction teams of both army and police have also been deployed at power stations and grid stations.
Earlier in the day, the discussions with the representatives of the striking employees failed to persuade them to return to their duties.
Officials said that the employees of the department are on protest in all the districts of Jammu and Kashmir with the main protest dharna being staged at Jammu.
A team of Government headed by Divisional Commissioner Jammu Dr. Raghav Langer, ADGP Jammu zone Mukesh Singh alongwith MD JPDCL held hours long talk with protesting employees but the talks have so far remained result-less.
Fresh rounds of talks have once again started between protesting employees and Jammu and Kashmir government.
Over twenty thousand employees of Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Department are protesting against the government move to merge J&K Power Development Department into the Power Grid Corporation of India and the handing over of the assets to private companies.
Meanwhile, due to ongoing protest, worst ever crisis of power has hit Jammu region while the majority of urban areas including most parts of Jammu city, Rajouri-Poonch and Chenab valley remain under darkness while the rural areas are worst affected.
The striking employees refused to repair the faults and also refused to man duties until the government reverses its decision to privatise the power sector in the UT.
The employees went on strike from Friday midnight and want a reversal of government decision to privatise assets, regularisation of daily wage power employees, and the release of salaries.
The employees say the assets built over decades by successive governments in J&K are now up for sale under Union territory administration.
“It’s a systematic transfer of assets which we are opposing. They are selling the assets of the transmission sector. They want to give 50% shareholding to the power grid which is against the interests of Jammu and Kashmir” said Sachin Tickoo, general Secretary of power employee union.
“It’s the issue of our existence. It’s the fight of the people we are fighting. we will be left with nothing if we lose the transmission sector. It’s the backbone of the power department” said Tickoo.
He said the talks with the government have been taking place at a lower level and no top government functionary has come forward to resolve the crisis and assurance that the power sector will not be sold to private companies—(KNO)