Editorial | Privatization woes

Any change comes with its own set of problems. And if changes are huge, problems match in proportion. The point in case is the privatization of Power Development Department, J&K (PDD). It was October, last year, when the government decided to unbundle PDD, that the ripples of uncertainty were felt by the employees of PDD. It fell like a bombshell and thousands of employees in this department found themselves surrounded by the smoke of uncertainty. The result was a prolonged protest, and a deep resentment, by the employees. As the job security was in danger, these employees could envisage that it was a matter of future, and it could lead to complete devastation of thousands of families. Following months of protest, government took a call and assured the employees of PDD that their jobs will be secured in the new scheme of things, as they would continue to work as government employees on deputation to newly developed power distribution companies. But following the latest move by the Union government to privatize all power distribution companies of Union Territories, including J&K, the fears have once again reared the ugly head. The future of 26,000 employees is now hanging in balance.

The employees allege that privatisation would mean a complete take over of the department by private players, and this is certainly different than unbundling. There are other arguments also put forth by the employees, and their association, but as things are poised it is a huge disturbance in the PDD employees. One doesn’t know what will happen to the earlier assurances of engaging the PDD employees as on deputation. There is a complete lack of clarity on what will happen to those thousands of employees that the department had engaged as daily wagers. These poor and marginalised people have invested years of their lives in the department, and now a bleak future stares them right in the eye. At a time when private sector, and routine market, is witnessing loss of jobs, and diminished earnings, people are already under stress. If in this we have the employees of PDD struggling for their job security, it will add to the woes of our society. After all it is not a small number. Cumulatively the number of those associated with PDD is 26000, if the reports are precise.