SRINAGAR: Many parts of Jammu and Kashmir continued to face electricity outage on the second consecutive day on Monday even after the Army stepped in the previous night by taking the control of some of the power houses after the civilian administration requested it to restore the essential service.
The crisis was set off by a strike of the employees of the J&K Power Development Department and associated agencies against the proposed privatisation of electricity in the Union Territory. They are also deadly opposed to the proposed merger of the department with the Power Grid Corporation of India.
However, Union Power Minister, RK Singh, on Monday said that there has only been a minor impact in some places of the strike and that by and large “things are normal”. He claimed that only 15 to 20 percent of the feeders were affected in the entire J&K and that there was no situation of blackout as such. “Talks are currently underway with employees’ unions to know about their demands and grievances “, he added.
Reacting to it, former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted, “Mantri ji, J&K stretches beyond Jammu city & the plains of Jammu. Can you please find out what is happening in the far-flung areas of Jammu? J&K also includes Kashmir and things are not nearly as rosy as your answer would suggest.”
Till the filing of this report the talks between the employees' unions and the government had not made any headway. Official sources said that the government has while making an appeal to the employees to call their strike off agreed in principle to put on hold its privatisation plan, the employees’ union leaders are insisting on a written assurance from no less a person than Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha himself. In its talks with the employees’ unions, the government is being represented by Jammu’s Divisional Commissioner, Raghav Langar. and additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Mukesh Singh.
The PDD employees on the second day running on Monday held anti-government protests in twin capitals of Srinagar and Jammu, demanding in writing from the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha that it has shelved the proposal of privatisation. Over 20,000 employees of the PDD are on an indefinite strike.
Amid the deadlock electricity continued to remain snapped to many areas, pushing people in a difficult situation.
While hundreds of COVID-19 patients are struggling to keep their oxygen concentrators on, the routine work at various industrial units and other projects has been affected badly due to non-availability of electricity. The Jammu University on Monday announced postponement of offline and online examinations for undergraduate and postgraduate students which were scheduled to be held on Tuesday. Common consumer too has suffered due to the outage.
Reacting to the proposed privatisation of the PDD, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted, “GOI has made its criminal agenda behind scrapping J&Ks special status clear. Motive behind state sponsored loot of our natural resources - illegal auction of sand mining to outsiders, conversion of agricultural land to privatising power transmission is to plunge J&K into chaos.”
J&K Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, while reacting to criticism said, "I do not want to name them, but some people have criticised 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 percent electricity yesterday and by tomorrow we will achieve 100 percent restoration".
He asserted that there can be no compromise on the issue of ensuring access to the basic amenities to our people.
He added, "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 J&K."...