Last October when the government decided to unbundle Power Development Department, concerns were raised about job security of the employees. After months of protest, the employees were assured they will continue to work as government employees on deputation to newly developed power distribution companies.
Following the latest move by Union government to privatize all power distribution companies of Union territories, including J&K, the employee Unions say future of over 26,000 employees has become uncertain.
A senior official said employees were uncertain about their status since privatization will mean complete takeover of the department by private players which is different from unbundling.
"The top brass in the department is resisting the move of privatization due to multiple reasons. Ours is the only Union territory where the power department was most recently unbundled into distribution companies. We are still in transition mode while power departments in other Union territories have been working as distribution companies for around one-and-half decades," said the official.
He said following the announcement of privatization future of 26,000 employees has become uncertain. Had "After the privatization announcement, there is no word from the government about future of regular and daily wage employees which is worrying," said the official.
Another official said although there is resistance form top brass of PDD and J&K government as a whole against privatization, but Union government was pushing for privatization and planning to get it implemented by end of this year.
Muhammad Maqbool Najar, President J&K Electric Employees Union said the move will be "worse" for both employees and consumers.
"Although we repeatedly took up the issue of our job security with higher officials, we are in complete darkness as what will be done to us. If private players take over the department, how will employees remain government employees? We don't want PDD to go SRTC way where employees were offered golden handshake and bid adieu without any future," said Najar.
The 26,000 employees include over 6,000 casual laborers who are working in Kashmir from the past over a decade. "Some of us have given 15 years of our life to this department. After all the hardships, the Divisional promotion committee (DPC) cleared around 3,000 of us for regularization but this move has put a question mark on everything we fought for," said Shabir Ahmed Shah, President J&K PDL-TDL Union.
He said around 6,000 families in Kashmir only depend on the earnings by daily wagers. "We are totally against the move as we know that the future of our families will be destroyed if the PDD is privatized," said Shah.