Saleem Iqbal Qadri

Netizens flay PDD for being careless towards safety of its laborers

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Lineman fixing high-tension line amid snowfall reveals hazardous work conditions of PDD field staff

Pic Courtesy/ Facebook

Sopore, Jan 06: The photo of a lineman working atop an electricity pole amid heavy snowfall (on January 05) without any safety gear has gone viral, revealing the deadly work conditions that are the mundane reality of PDD’s linemen in Kashmir.

The image of a 39-year-old casual laborer of Power Development Department (PDD) on top an electricity pole fixing the power line in north Kashmir’s Sopore town has sparked harsh reactions and scathing criticism online.

The image, which was widely shared on social media, panicked the netizens who expressed concern over the working conditions of PDD linemen in Kashmir.

The lineman, Mohammad Abdullah Khan, popularly known as Abil Khan in his area, who is a resident of Bomai village of Sopore town, is working in the PDD as a casual laborer since last 18 years. Khan is currently posted with Electric Maintenance Wing, Sub-Division IIIrdSopore.

Narrating the adverse working conditions for linemen, particularly during the winters, Khan said that the working without safety gear is a sure recipe for disaster, “but this is how life is for us”!

“We work for the department 24×7 without any safety equipments at our disposal. So there are always chances that we may fell down and end up losing our life or limb like what has happened to dozens of our colleagues during past many years,” said Khan.

Yesterday (January 05) “I had to climb an electric pole to repair an 11KV transmission line and someone had clicked my picture while I was doing the repairs,” Khan said about the picture.

“Government has a responsibility to ensure safety for its field employees, particularly during winters when the cold and slippery conditions increase the chances of accident manifold,” said a group of his colleagues who also face similar work conditions and concomitant hazards.

Now see the tragedy — Khan and hundreds of his colleagues (casual laborers) are paid a meager salary of Rs 3000 a month by the PDD, and that too after delays of months together.

Speaking to ‘Kashmir Images’, Assistant Executive Engineer, Electric Maintenance Sub-division IIIrd, Sopore, Showkat Ahmad Bhat, said: “Khan is known to be a hard-working employee in our department and he has proved his commitment to the department.”

Asked about the lack of safety gear, Bhat claimed: “All of our field staff has been equipped with the necessary life saving equipments, but I have no idea as to why they are not using it.”

   Mohammad Abdullah Khan

“Big boasts and hollow claims and flat lies — nothing more than that,” was the reaction of a group of PDD field staff when they were told about the department’s claims that they have provided safety gear to them.

People sharing their reactions on social media were equally scathing in criticizing the department for putting the lives of its field staff at risk by not attending to their safety requirements, and also for “exploiting” the “foot-soldiers” by not paying them adequately.

“The top bosses of the department who work from the cozy office chambers are paid fat pay packets and the ordinary linemen who keep the department ticking by risking their lives in most hazardous conditions are paid peanuts, and that too after they are virtually made to beg for it for months together,” read a post on Facebook.

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