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J&K Power Dept Employees' Strike: Govt Calls Upon Army Amid Outages, Blackouts

Thousands of power department employees resumed their indefinite strike against privatisation.

Updated
India
2 min read
J&K Power Dept Employees' Strike: Govt Calls Upon Army Amid Outages, Blackouts
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Large parts of Jammu and Kashmir plunged into darkness on Sunday, 19 December, as thousands of power department employees resumed their indefinite strike against the government's move to privatise assets.

Amid wide-scale disruptions in power supply, including prolonged outages and blackouts, the administration requisitioned the army for help.

As reports of power outages poured in during a severe winter, Dr Raghav Langer, Jammu's Divisional Commissioner penned a letter to the Ministry of Defence and sought help from army personnel to "man critical electricity stations and water supply sources."

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Why is the Power Department Striking?

Over 20,000 employees and engineers of J&K's Power Development Department (PDD) began their strike against privatisation of 'grid stations' and payment lags on Saturday.

The protests followed a proposed merger between the UT’s Power Department, including the Power Transmission Corporation Limited (PTCL) and the Power Distribution Corporation Limited (PTDL), with the Power Grid Corporation of India.

After the revocation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the J&K state, the J&K Power Development Department (JKPDD) was divided into the PTCL and PTDL.

The merger, which is being viewed as a sale of UT's assets has bolstered the trust deficit between the people and the J&K administration.

General Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir Electrical Engineering Graduates Association (JKEEGA) Sachin Tickoo stated, “It's a systematic transfer of assets which we are opposing," NDTV reported.

On the beginning of the strike, Senior leader of Electrical Employees Union, Jasbir Singh had stated:

"The decision to go on an indefinite strike was taken after two rounds of talks in Jammu held between the Power Employees and Engineers Coordination Committee (PEECC), J&K, and government representatives (Managing Director, JKPDC) failed to yield any result to break the impasse."
Jasbir Singh, as per Greater Kashmir

Saying that they were given false assurance of timely release of wages, promotions, and regularisation of daily wagers, he added, "They are trying to privatise our grid stations. They converted it into a corporation from the department. Then they did not fulfill the promises made to us. Now, is it possible for us to believe that they won’t sell the grid stations?", Greater Kashmir reported.

While the government has made an appeal to employees to call off their strike and has reportedly offered to put on hold its privatisation plan, the employees have asked for a written assurance.

Meanwhile, speaking on PDD's strike, Union Power Minister RK Singh said, "There is a minor impact at a few places, by and large, things are normal. In Jammu, only 15-20 percent of feeders are affected. There is no situation of blackout. Talks are on with employees union to know their demands and grievances," news agency ANI reported.

Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh was quoted as saying, "The journey of development cannot stop. Those employees who are on strike have to be addressed by the government, and I am sure they will do that."

(With inputs from NDTV, ANI, and Greater Kashmir.)

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