The divisional administration in Jammu has called upon the Indian Army to help in restoration of power supply.
An electricity crisis looms large in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory after the Jammu Kashmir Power Development Department employees went on a strike against privatization of electricity. Talks with agitated JKPDD staff has so far failed to break the ice
After failing to reach an agreement with agitating J-K Power Development Department (JKPDD) employees, the divisional administration in Jammu has asked the Indian Army to aid the government in restoring electricity.
Hundreds of consumers in Jammu and Kashmir have been kept in the dark as a result of the JKPDD employees’ strike, which has forced them to stop working until their demands are met.
Divisional Commissioner Jammu Dr Raghav Langer has sent a letter to the General Officer-Commanding (GOC) of 9 Corps, which is responsible for Jammu, Samba, and Kathua districts, and the GOC of the Nagrota-based 16 Corps, which is responsible for the rest seven districts of Jammu division, including Chenab Belt and Pir Panchal region, to assist the administration in helping power up electric installations/supplies in Jammu.
Dr Raghav Langer spoke at a press conference last evening to clarify the government’s position on the concerns. He claimed that the government’s decisions on the electricity sector are progressive in nature and will result in reforms.
According to the Divisional Commissioner, the government’s goal in Jammu and Kashmir is to provide reliable electricity hours a day, seven days a week. “I assure you that the government is here to protect the public’s interests with sincerity,” he said.
Concerning the agitating employees’ union, it has already been stated that none of the service conditions, pay structures, salaries, or pensionary benefits will be changed to the detriment of any PDD employee, he added. “All employees have received timely pay and other perks for the past 24 months,” Dr Langer said.
Several rounds of negotiations have already been undertaken, according to ADGP Mukesh Singh, and many concerns were handled on the spot, while several policy issues were brought up for consideration with the higher-ups.
“We have appealed to the striking employees to end their strike, and in the meantime, we are enlisting the Army and other agencies to assist us in restoring power. No one would be spared if they try to obstruct the restoration of power,” Singh added.
According to MD JKPSL, 55 percent of power in Jammu division has been restored, and the department is working to restore the remaining 45 percent.
Army engineering wing deployed to restore power supply
The government has now deployed specialist teams of the Military Engineering Services (MES) on a number of power-receiving stations in Jammu zone, along with Army and Police, to quell any protests by employees of the Jammu and Kashmir government’s Power Development Department.
On the request of Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Military Engineering Services teams were dispatched to power stations in the late night hours to assist the Army and Police. The Army’s wing has begun their attempts to restore power. The Military Engineering Services wing is currently in charge of a number of receiving stations in Jammu.
At power plants and grid stations, Army and Police quick response teams have been dispatched.
Talks fail to break the ice
Discussions with representatives of the striking employees earlier in the day failed to persuade them to return to work.
Officials reported that department employees are protesting in all of Jammu and Kashmir’s districts, with the main protest dharna taking place in Jammu.
A government delegation led by Dr. Raghav Langer, ADGP Jammu zone Mukesh Singh, and MD, JPDCL, met with protesting employees for several hours, but the negotiations had no results.
Protesting employees and the government of Jammu and Kashmir have begun new rounds of discussions.
JKPDD employees against privatization
Over 20,000 employees of the Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Department are opposing the government’s decision to merge the department with the Power Grid Corporation of India, as well as the transfer of assets to private businesses.
Meanwhile, the worst-ever power outage in Jammu has struck the region, with the bulk of urban regions, including most of Jammu city, Rajouri-Poonch, and Chenab valley, remaining dark. Rural areas have been suffering the worst.
In Kashmir, people have also been facing a lot of hardships in this connection. Hundreds of families who have Oxygen concentrator dependent patients have been requesting the district authorities to intervene to provide them with electricity. However, no progress has so far been made.
Striking staff have refused to repair the flaws or man responsibilities unless the government reverses its decision to privatise the UT’s electricity sector.
J-K assets put up for sale, JKPDD employees allege
Employees have been on strike since Friday midnight, demanding that the government reverse its decision to privatise assets, that daily wage power employees be restored, and that salaries be released.
Employees claim that assets constructed by various governments in J&K over decades are now up for sale under Union territory control.
“This is a systematic asset transfer that we oppose. They’re selling the transmission sector’s assets. They want to give the power grid a 50% stake, which goes against Jammu and Kashmir’s interests,” said Sachin Tickoo, General Secretary, of the power employees’ union.
He remarked, “It’s a question of life and death. It’s a people’s battle that we’re fighting. If we lose the transmission sector, we will be left with nothing. It is the power department’s backbone.”
He claimed that talks with the government have been at a low level, and that no senior government official has stepped forward to address the situation and guarantee that the power sector will not be transferred to private corporations.