The Indian Army on Monday deployed troops at major power stations in Jammu and Kashmir to restore electricity cut off due to a strike by power department employees, ANI reported.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday requested the Army’s assistance after the strike left large parts of the Union Territory without electricity amidst a harsh cold wave, according to The Indian Express.
Over 20,000 employees of the power department are on the indefinite strike that began on Sunday, according to PTI. Jammu and Srinagar were among the places that reported power outages.
Electricity has now been restored in some areas after the administration sought the Army’s assistance, NDTV reported.
Employees of power department began their agitation on Saturday, and over 20,000 staff of the Union Territory’s power transmission and distribution corporations have taken part in it. The employees are opposing the decision to privatise some assets and questioning the delay in salary disbursement.
The agitators are also opposing the merger of the J&K Power Development Department into the Power Grid Corporation of India.
“It’s the issue of our existence,” Sachin Tikoo, general secretary of the power employee union, told NDTV. “It’s the fight of the people we are fighting. We will be left with nothing if we lose the transmission sector. It’s the backbone of the power department.”
Shiva Nand, the managing director of the Jammu Power Distribution Corporation Limited, said that the government has agreed to put the joint venture on hold and re-examine the concerns raised by the employees.
“But the employees have now come up with new demands like reverting back to previous system such as granting them salary from government treasuries, which was not possible in view of the unbundling of power sector reforms in the UT,” Nand told The Indian Express.
The employees held protests in Srinagar and Jammu on Monday and demanded Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha give in writing that the proposed merger has been shelved.
Meanwhile, Union Power Minister RK Singh claimed that there was no situation of blackout in the Union Territory and things were largely normal, reported ANI. “Talks are on with employees union to know their demands and grievances,” he said.
In view of the power outage, Jammu University has postponed offline and online examinations for its undergraduate and postgraduate courses that were going to be held on Tuesday.
Srinagar on Sunday reported a minimum temperature of -6 degrees Celsius while some other parts of Kashmir are even colder. The India Meteorological Department has predicted a further drop in minimum temperatures and snowfall this week.