Srinagar: Despite temperature dipping to minus, several districts of Jammu and Kashmir have been cut off from electricity causing immense difficulties to the general public.
The outages have been a result of Power Development Department (PDD) employees in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir deciding to go on an indefinite strike since December 18 as the Lt Governor’s Administration has “failed to resolve their pending issues”.
An official of the department told Free Press Kashmir that ‘from linemen to engineers, all employees of power department are on strike against the privatisation move of the government’.
Jammu and Kashmir Power Employees and Engineers Coordination Committee leaders, Munshi Majid Ali and Sachin Tikoo in their four point draft demanded an end to proposed move.
The employees’ demands include shelving a proposed joint venture between the Jammu and Kashmir Power Transmission Corporation Limited and the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited.
A PDD official told Free Press Kashmir that “strike will continue till the demands of the employees are not met and a proper plan is not shared”.
However, the stand-off has caused immense difficulties in various districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
There has been total blackout in Doda, Kishtwar, Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu region besides several sub divisions across J&K including Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian, and Tral.
In Jammu City several areas including, Roopnagar, Chinore, Muthi, Bantalab, Durga Nagar, Paloura, Rehari, Resham Ghar Colony, Talab Tilloo, about half a dozen localities of Old Jammu City, parts of Satwari, Chatha, Trikuta Nagar and Gangyal have witnessed total blackout.
Showkat Ahmad, a resident of shopian told Free Press Kashmir that in this intense cold conditions they are without electricity for the last two days which has affected their life badly.
“Due to the electricity shutdown we cannot use electronic gadgets to warm ourselves. Water is bone chilling due to which children fall sick. Senior citizens face severe pain in their joints due to the freezing temperature,” Ahmad said.
A resident from Pulwama, Hilal Ahmad said that children are undergoing exams, however, due to the shutdown they are not able to prepare.
“Children are studying under candle light without any heating arrangements. Government has no resolution to our problem. Instead of resolving power crises, government is making our lives even more difficult,” he said.
Moreover, complaints and distress calls were received from across the Valley against the PDD employees for switching off the grid stations and disrupting power supply to people who are paying bills.
From Ratnipora, Pulwama one of the local residents said that COVID patients in their village are on oxygen concentrators but due to non availability of electricity patients are fighting for their life.
“Some of the families have arranged generators for such patients, however everyone cannot afford these devices,” he said.
Chief Engineer PDD, Aijaz Ahmad said that the department is trying to get the employees back to work, however he said it cannot be ascertained how much time it will take.
When asked about inconvenience caused to the general public, he said, “everyone is aware about the strike. Employees are on strike we are trying to negotiate with them. I cannot say how much time it will take.”
He added that for hospitals, the department has made sure that electricity supply continues.
Convenor, Jammu and Kashmir Power Employees and Engineers Coordination Committee, Munshi Majid Ali said that Chief Engineer is not a competent authority as he is also part of the Coordination Committee which is on strike.
“Let the Administrative Secretary Niteshwar Kumar authorize any person on his behalf, but as of now we didn’t get any response from the Admin,” Munshi Majid Ali told reporters.