PDD Strike, Power Outages Continue

KO Photo By Abid Bhat

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

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 examinations for undergraduate and postgraduate students on Monday 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 parlayed 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 here, a spokesman of protesting employees said the employees are ready to call off strike provided the 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 outages 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 a 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.

Sabotage Bid

Sabotage was noticed at three receiving stations to plunge many areas in the winter capital in darkness.

In Roop Nagar, the official sources said, a wire was connected between two phases to cause a short circuit in case the system is charged. Besides, they said, one of the 11KV breakers were pulled partially out at JDA receiving station at Valmiki Nagar.

“DC supply for auxiliaries in Bantalab receiving station was also completely disconnected,” the sources added.

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