Power logjam continues as talks fail

Army deployed to run essential services in Jammu
Power logjam continues as talks fail
Officials of civil administration, police and security personnel at a power grid station in Banihal on Sunday evening.Special arrangement

Jammu: Army was deployed across the region in critical electricity stations and water supply sources after the Divisional Commissioner Jammu Dr Raghav Langer on Sunday made a requisition for it to restore essential services as even the fresh round of talks between the government and protesting power employees failed.

Army swiftly acted to the request and deployed its personnel. Late in the evening, power was restored in many parts of Jammu region.

Hence the continued impasse forced many parts of J&K to reel under darkness till late evening for the second consecutive day.

However the protesting employees too, showing no signs of climbdown from their stated position have decided to lock horns with the government. They have announced that their staff at the Grids, Receiving Stations and Feeder Stations will not handover charge to “outsiders, including army personnel, MES staff or Powergrid staff employees till they give them an order in writing to do so.”

ADGP Jammu zone Mukesh Singh, however, cautioned that all such attempts aimed at scuttling government measures to restore essential services, including the deployment of army, to lessen inconvenience being caused to people would be dealt with sternly. He stated this in a late evening press conference jointly addressed by Div Com and senior PDD officers. Div Com and MD JPDCL and JPTCL detailed the outcome of talks with protesting employees and the subsequent measures taken to overcome the crisis.

“We have agreed to most of their demands and asked them to call off their strike in the interest of people. We hope that they will think over it and call off their strike. We’re willing to listen to all their issues and resolve them peacefully,” they informed.

Meanwhile All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) too has announced to join the cause of protesting UT’s power employees under the aegis of J&K Power Employees & Engineers Coordination Committee (JKPEECC). AIPEF has sought the intervention of the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to break the stalemate and end work boycott by 21000 power employees and engineers. Earlier AIPEF’s chairman Shailendra Dubey reached Jammu on Saturday to support the protesting power employees and engineers of J&K.

After his failed negotiations, also joined by the ADGP Jammu zone Mukesh Singh besides MD JPDCL and JPTCL with the protesting employees, the Divisional Commissioner Jammu wrote to JS (Army), Department of Military Affairs, Ministry of Defence; Lt Gen P N Ananthanarayanan GOC HQ 9 Corps and Lt Gen Manjinder Singh GOC HQ 16 Corps.

In his brief letter, Dr Langer made requisition for assistance of the army in restoration of essential services.

“It is to bring to your kind notice that due to a strike by Electricity Department personnel in the UT of J&K, essential services have been severely affected in the Jammu region,” Dr Langer wrote.

“We would like to hereby requisition the Indian army to assist the restoration of said essential services by providing manpower to man critical electricity stations and water supply sources,” the Div Com requested.

Prior to it, the Div Com on behalf of the government invited the PDD employees who had gone on indefinite strike for talks at 3.00 pm at his office. “They were invited for talks in order to break the logjam in the best interest of the public amidst the ongoing winter season and the COVID pandemic situation,” it was stated by the government officials in the official tweet. However the talks failed to end the impasse.

AIPEF chairman Shailendra Dubey told Greater Kashmir that the negotiations failed due to the adamant attitude of government representatives. “Nothing happened in the talks with the Div Com who had come along with ADGP and all the MDs at Dharna site. Coordination Committee convener Sachin Tikoo had submitted a memorandum containing all four demands to them. There are two major demands, one is the shelving of a joint venture between the Jammu and Kashmir Power Transmission Corporation Limited and the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited. On this account, our point is that the letter by Government of India is only advisory in nature and secondly nowhere such a joint venture has been established so far but as an experiment only in J&K which is a sensitive border state,” he said.

“On this issue, they said they were ready to put it on hold. Our second major demand was that all power employees, being government employees, should be paid salaries from treasuries. They are working in the Corporation only on deputation. However the government said that as this issue involved technicalities hence it could not be sorted out overnight. Our argument was that this issue had been lingering on for the past two years and the notice was served on December 11. Nevertheless the employees are very clear that the talks will continue but now the ball is in their court,” he said.

With regard to army deployment to restore essential services, he said that they had no problem with the government making an alternate arrangement but it should be “in writing.”

JKPEECC chairman Jai Pal Sharma, echoing Dubey’s stand on their issues, held the government responsible for the stalemate.

“They are not coming out with any concrete proposal. They have given only verbal assurances but we want brief orders from the Commissioner Secretary and the Finance Department on our two main issues. As far as army deployment is concerned, we’ve instructed our personnel, who are still working in shifts. They will hand over charge to any outsider, even if they are from the army, MES or Powergrid, only if they give order in writing vis-à-vis take over,” Sharma said.

Meanwhile, the All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF) has sought the intervention of the Jammu & Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha in the ongoing work boycott by the 21000 electricity employees and engineers of Jammu & Kashmir.

AIPEF spokesperson V K Gupta said in the statement said the Jammu and Kashmir electricity employees and engineers were on indefinite work boycott to press for their four-point demands, including shelving a proposed joint venture between the Jammu and Kashmir Power Transmission Corporation Limited and the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, a white paper on non-fulfillment of the recommendations of the unbundling report and the failure to create positions as mandated by the committee at Gazetted and Non-Gazetted levels, regularisation of daily wagers, and regularisation of all Power Development Department engineers. Meanwhile, Shailendra Dubey, Chairman AIPEF reached Jammu on Saturday to support the All Power Employees and Engineers coordination committee and said that instead of coming with a resolution of the issues, the government today cited termination and dismissal, without any reasons.

The National Coordination Committee of Electricity employees and Engineers (NCCOEEE ) held an emergency online meeting on Sunday and it was decided that demonstrations would be held across the country from December 20 to 22 to support J&K power employees. “The memorandum shall be mailed to Lt. Governor with a copy to Home Minister and Union Power Minister by all the constituents on December 20. It has been decided by the coordination committee of employees and engineers that if any employee is arrested or any punitive action is taken against any employee, all the power employees and engineers from Jammu and Kashmir shall be forced to offer mass court arrest in the district headquarters the responsibility of this shall lie on government,” it was stated.

Greater Kashmir