While Jammu and Kashmir continue without electricity in freezing weather, the government, according to the striking employees, have shown no interest in resolving the issue.
“We are waiting to see whether the government concede our demands. If they agree to nullify the proposal of coming up with a joint venture company and assure us about the salary of the employees including daily wagers ad engineers, we will reconsider our decision,” says Sachin Tickoo Convenor of Power Employees and Engineers coordination Committee.
Divisional Commissioner Jammu Ragav Langar, through a letter on Sunday evening, sought help from the Army in restoring electricity in the Jammu division.
“The army has been called to operate the power infrastructure in Jammu division of J&K. There no bigger admission of failure for a civilian administration than to call upon the army, it means a total breakdown of governance has been accepted by the J&K government,” former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted.
“77 out of 128 feeders functional now. 38 feeders made functional in Hiranagar, Billawar, Bani and Basohli since last night. However, 33 out of 62 feeder off in Kathua sub division. We are working for making them functional,” Deputy Commissioner Kathua tweeted. Jammu University has postponed offline and online examinations for undergraduate and postgraduate students in view of the strike.
The employees are accusing the government of privatizing the power sector in Jammu and Kashmir through a joint venture company and handing over the government assets built over the years to a private company. The employees held anti-government protests in Srinagar and Jammu and sought in writing from the Lieutenant Governor that it has shelved the proposal of privatisation and release salaries.
Sachin Tickoo said they had given representation to the government to fulfil their demands and had given it time till November 17.
“In J&K power generation sector has already taken over by the NHPC (National Hydro-Electric Power Corporation (NHPC). We have an investment of 20,000 crores in power generation in the Chenab Valley under Chenab Valley Power Development Corporation and the NHPC. And there is no involvement of J&K there in terms of employment,” he said. Tickoo says the distribution sector is being already pushed for privatization into union territories. “And now most safe sector that is transmission sector is in danger as the government is pushing it into indirect privatization,” he added. “There is a company named Power Grid Company. It has been asked to go for a joint venture with J&K Power Transmission Company, which is a government’s company. The Power Grid Company is given a 50 per cent share in the joint venture company. That means our assets, which we have created over the years including grid stations, receiving stations, will go to a private company. The government of India has spent crores in creating these assets. Now why they should be handed over to a private company,” he said.