After a written assurance from the administration to put on hold the proposed merger of Power Development Department (PDD) with Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCI) and the subsequent bid for its privatisation, the protesting employees of the PDD in Jammu and Kashmir called off their indefinite strike on Tuesday (21 December) morning.
Reportedly, an official team led by Divisional Commissioner Raghav Langer and ADGP Mukesh Singh held fresh talks on Monday and Tuesday with the PDD employee's association led by its General Secretary S Tickoo, and gave them a written assurance.
“The employees questioned the justification of allowing PGCIL to have stakes in transmission corporations, which had only 4 per cent transmission. They also asked the government to take care of the distribution side to reduce the transmission losses there," sources said, adding that the government finally agreed to put on hold the JV move and take into confidence all stakeholders before moving further in the matter, reports The Indian Express.
“An agreement has been reached with the employees, and they will resume work immediately. The employees have been directed to restore power supply to the affected areas forthwith so that the people don’t face any further problems,” said Dr Langer.
He further added that the government had already conceded most of the immediate demands put forth by the employees, and had a positive outlook towards the rest.
The government agreed to put on hold the merger of the PDD with PGCI and set up a committee to review the matter. According to an official, the strike has been called off by the protesting employees after marathon discussions with the administration, and they will resume duties on Tuesday (21 December). He informed that 80 per cent of power supply restoration had already been done.
The protesting employees have also received assurances on other issues, including salaries, from the administration.
The withdrawal of the strike has come as a huge relief to the public as the Kashmir Valley is facing sub-zero temperatures these days. The power outages have only made matters worse for the residents.
As nearly one-third of the Jammu division and several parts of Kashmir were facing difficulties due to power disruption, the administration on Sunday (19 December) had roped in the Army to help restore power supplies to the affected areas.
"We have already restored 60 per cent electricity, and by tomorrow we will achieve 100 per cent restoration," said J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, on Monday (20 December). Sinha said that talks were held with the striking employees, and as of Monday, no dues and salaries were pending on the part of the government.
Lieutenant Governor lashed at those who criticised his administration for roping in the Army to help restore the power supply. "I do not want to name them, but some people have criticised that the Army has been called to restore electricity. Personnel from REC, NTPC, NHPC, and officers from the army engineering corps have also come. This only shows our commitment," said Sinha.
Approximately 30-40 per cent of areas in the UT have been facing widespread power outages since Saturday (18 December) morning owing to the deadlock between PDD employees and the administration over the latter's bid to privatise power assets in the region, and delay in payment of their salaries. Over 20,000 employees had been on an indefinite strike since Saturday.
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