J&K power crisis continues as employees’ strike; 100% electricity restoration by tomorrow, says Manoj Sinha

The PDD employees have been on strike since Sunday against the J&K administration decision to privatise the department and merge it with the Power Grid Corporation of India

FP Staff December 20, 2021 21:11:20 IST
J&K power crisis continues as employees’ strike; 100% electricity restoration by tomorrow, says Manoj Sinha

File photo of Jammu and Kashmir LG Manoj Sinha. PTI

Residents of many cities in Jammu & Kashmir faced power shut down on second consecutive day, as Power Development Department (PDD) employees continued their strike against the proposed privatisation of electricity in the Union Territory.

The PDD employees have been on strike since Sunday against the J&K administration decision to privatise the department and merge it with the Power Grid Corporation of India. Jammu University has postponed offline and online examination for undergraduate and postgraduate students tomorrow in view of the strike.

The PDD employees held anti-government protests in Srinagar and Jammu demanding in writing from the Lieutenant Governor that it has shelved the proposal of privatisation. According to sources, while the administration parleyed with the PDD employees, it also visited several power distribution facilities in Jammu to speed up restoration of electric supply.

The administration in its talks with the employees was represented by divisional commissioner, Jammu, Raghav Langar and additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Mukesh Singh. The deadlock between the two bodies has put thousands of J&K residents in extreme hardship amid bone-chilling winter, while hundreds of COVID-19 patients are struggling to keep their oxygen concentrators on.

The government has made an appeal to employees to call off their strike and has offered to put on hold its privatisation plan, but employees are insisting on a written assurance. Talking to reporters, a spokesman of protesting employees said the employees are ready to call off strike provided government gives them in writing assurance for their four core demands, particularly regarding privatisation and release of their salaries.

Over 20,000 employees of the PDD are on an indefinite strike.

Most of the 20 districts of Jammu and Kashmir are facing power breakdown since Sunday while it has been restored in some areas in Jammu and Srinagar and also in few other districts, the sources said. On Sunday, Langer wrote to the department of military affairs, ministry of defence, requesting for the assistance of the army in the restoration of the essential services.

Since then the army has been deployed to restore essential services, officials said. The deployment was made following a requisition by the administration to the army, the officials said.

The army acted swiftly and deployed its troops at critical electricity stations and water supply sources to restore power supply, officials said.

Langar on Sunday said the government has already acceded to all demands of the striking employees, including the proposed joint venture between the Jammu and Kashmir Power Transmission Corporation Limited and the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited.

He also described the power reforms as "inevitable".

There have been few rounds of talks already at various levels with the PDD employees the power sector reforms are inevitable and the government of India has clearly told us to ensure that the reformation is seen through, Langer said.

'100% power restoration by tomorrow': Manoj Sinha

Meanwhile, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha put out a statement saying he understood the pain of the 1.25 crore citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and vowing 100% power restoration by tomorrow.

Sinha's statement, released on the sidelines of a function at Convention Centre, read: "I want to tell 1.25 crore citizens of Jammu and Kashmir that I understand your pain caused by the disruption in electricity supply due to strike by the power department employees. The well-being of each and every citizen is our top priority."

Sinha added that many generations of Jammu and Kashmir have spent their life dreaming about getting an uninterrupted 24-hour supply of electricity and that bold initiative of reforms in the power sector have been undertaken to realize that dream.

"Unfortunately, the people who were at the helm of affairs for many decades did nothing; they didn’t want the system to get better to bring qualitative change in people's lives," he added.

"Talks have been held with those who were on strike and as on date no dues/salary are pending on part of the government. I do not want to name them, but some people have criticized that the army has been called to restore electricity. Personnel from REC, NTPC NHPC, and officers from the army engineering corps have also come. This only shows our commitment that we restored 60% electricity yesterday and by tomorrow we will achieve 100% restoration. There can be no compromise on the issue of ensuring access to the basic amenities to our people."

Sinha added that tremendous work has been done across the power sector in the country and that rural aareas are now getting electricity for 20 to 22 hours. "Unfortunately, Jammu and Kashmir is still deprived of that. We have made efforts in that direction. Most of you know our cumulative generation capacity is around 3500MW even though the UT has the potential to generate 20000 MW. In the last 6-8 months, the MoUs we have signed with NHPC, under the guidance of Hon’ble Prime Minister, will pave way for generating 3500MW additional power in the next 4-5 years, assuredly. There is no dearth of electricity in the country but the UT’s transmission and distribution systems have a limited capacity of carrying electricity from outside. We have worked in that direction and have been able to achieve 40% of that specific capacity building plan," Sinha added.

"And I want to assure that the Hon’ble Prime Minister has always extended his support to us and in the last 14 months, we have completed 236 projects to improve transmission and distribution infrastructure and the rest will also be completed, well within timelines. It pains me that despite massive progress in other parts of the country, people of J&K were deprived of minimum requirements to live a civilized life. If some people think that the system will work as per their whims and fancies, it cannot be allowed. The system will work for 1.25 crore citizens without any discrimination."

Every step of the UT administration is meant for the betterment of 1.25 crore citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, he concluded.

 

 

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