J&K faces power outages as 20,000 PDD workers strike
Nearly 20,000 employees from Jammu and Kashmir's (J&K) Power Development Department (PDD) have gone on strike indefinitely. They are protesting against the government's decision to merge PDD with the Power Grid Corporation of India and the privatization of government assets. The employees have agreed to refrain from performing any repair or maintenance work, which has led to power outages.
Why does it matter?
- The workers have been protesting since Friday midnight and the power supply has completely broken down in several districts.
- The capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar have also reported power outages, which are proving to be menace as J&K faces a cold wave this winter.
- Assets built by various governments over decades are now up for sale to private entities, the protesting workers say.
'Fighting the fight of the people'
The workers are protesting against the systematic transfer of assets, said Sachin Tickoo, general secretary of the power employee union. "They want to give 50% shareholding to the power grid which is against the interests of Jammu and Kashmir," Tickoo told NDTV. "It's the fight of the people we are fighting. We will be left with nothing if we lose the transmission sector."
Who all are involved in the protest?
Reportedly, meter readers, linemen, inspectors, junior and senior engineers are all part of the protest. The employees claim they had a bad experience with the government breaking several promises when the PDD was turned into a corporation more than a year ago.
'Nowhere in India are power grids sold'
The employees will fight tooth and nail to prevent the sale of grid stations, Tickoo reportedly said. "Nowhere in the country are power grids sold. It is tragic that the government is out to hand over our assets to an outside company. Power is on the concurrent list, " he said. The employees are feeling insecure, he added.
Protesters allege government inaction to resolve matter
Employees were harmed by the proposed merger, the J&K Grid Company, without first debating the modalities, the protesters reportedly said. Tickoo said the J&K administration had not yet dispatched top authorities to resolve the matter. "All we want is that the proposal should be scrapped and the salary of the PDD employees should come from the state budget," he said.