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Amid PDD employees’ strike, power shut down continues to haunt and harass people

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Srinagar/Jammu: As Power Development Department (PDD) employees continued their strike against the proposed privatisation of electricity in the Union Territory, the residents of many areas in the cities and towns as well as in the countryside are facing harassment due to power shutdown.

In many areas across the UT, people took to streets to protest power cuts. In Srinagar, many areas witnessed prolonged traffic snarls as women blocked roads in protest against the lack of electricity.

The PDD employees have been on strike since Sunday against the J&K administration’s decision to privatise the department and merge it with the Power Grid Corporation of India.

Jammu University has postponed offline and online examination for undergraduate and postgraduate students tomorrow in view of the strike.

The PDD employees also 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 parleyed 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 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 breakdown 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 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. (With PTI inputs)

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