As employees in Power Development Department continue to lose lives to fatal injuries in the line of duty in absence of any safety measures, the Department's field staff has now decided to raise its voice against the official apathy. To begin with, J&K Electrical Employees Union—an umbrella organization of PDD's non-gazetted employees, casual labourers and need-based workers—would hold protests on March 15.
"Awful frequency of electric accidents in PDD and inordinate delay in settlement of long-pending and genuine demands and other issues has compelled the employees to launch a demonstration on March 15," said Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, General Secretary of the Union.
The decision to hit the streets comes at a time when the PDD is witnessing increase in frequency of fatal incidents and repeated reminders by the Employees' Union to the Department on implementation of safety measures have been ignored.
"Though the Union has already served a notice in this regard, no cognizance has been taken by the Department," reads a 'notice' issued by the Union to the Department.
In absence of any safety measures like "Permit to Work", proper training to ground staff, failure of the government to set up training institute for PDD's ground staff and equip them with safety tools, the department every year watches at least 15 of its men lose lives to fatal accidents while over 20 people get maimed for rest of their lives.
During the past one-week, after a labourer was electrocuted here under full public glare, an investigation by Greater Kashmir revealed how the Department—with employee strength of over 30,000—has failed to take care of the safety of its men, resulting in fatal accidents.
The Union President Mir Abdus Salam Rajpuri said on March 15, employees would observe "pen and tool down" strike across the State and there would be protests held at all division headquarters.
"If the Government fails to address our concern, we will carry forward the protests," he said.
He said every year the Department has been witnessing fatal accidents. "But there seems to be no urgency on part of the authorities to implement the safety measures and welfare programs for the employees," he said.
He termed the departmental inquiry into the tragic death of the labourer Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat as "mere eyewash".
"Because one accident happened in the city under full public glare, the Department was forced to order an inquiry, otherwise it has never ordered a probe into any such fatality till date," Rajpori said.