After more than 36 hours of power outage in Chandigarh, electricity has been restored in most of the city, ANI reported on Wednesday, citing Dharam Pal, the advisor to the Union Territory’s administrator.
The outage occurred as the city’s power department employees were holding a three-day protest since Monday night against privatisation of the services, reported India Today.
On Wednesday evening, Pal said that the power department employees have joined back and the administration was looking into their grievances.
Earlier in the day, power supply was restored in certain parts of Chandigarh like Sectors 44-A, 42-B, 33-B, 11-A, 15-C, 22-A 39, residents said, reported The Tribune. However, the outage continued till Wednesday afternoon in Sectors 51, 52, 36, 63, 4, 46, 22-D, 20-A, 21-A, 29 and 30 and parts of Sector 47, 34-C, 61 and Mani Majra areas.
The power outage left many parts of the city without electricity and water and also hampered the city’s hospitals and traffic management. Online classes were shut down and industrial production and manufacturing units in some parts of the city were also hit, reported NDTV.
“We have a backup plan like we have generators,” Chandigarh Health Services Director Suman Singh had told PTI. “But you cannot put 100% load of a hospital on a generator. So, we had to reschedule or postpone our planned surgeries.”
In view of the outage, the Indian Army was called in to restore power.
On Tuesday evening, the Chandigarh administration had invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act. Under this law, the authorities can put a ban on strikes for six months.
Why were employees protesting?
The employees went on a strike on Monday night after the UT Powermen Union called for a protest against the administration’s decision to privatise the electricity department.
The employees claimed that if the electricity department was privatised, their service conditions would change and power tariffs would increase.
VK Gupta, the president of the All India Power Engineers Federation, said that the scheme to transfer government employees to a private entity amounted to a case of coercion, reported The Indian Express.
“Under the proposed transfer scheme of the Chandigarh administration, all existing employees would be transferred to a private company, which is an inferior service condition as compared to government service,” Gupta claimed, adding that it violates provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003.
On Monday, Dharam Pal, the advisor to the Chandigarh administration, held a meeting with the representatives of the department. However, the two sides could not reach a breakthrough. After this, the union announced the strike. The employees have also threatened to extend the duration of the strike if the decision to privatise the department is not revoked.
High Court summons Chandigarh chief engineer
On Tuesday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo moto cognisance of outage and asked the Union Territory’s chief engineer to appear before it. A bench of Justices Ajay Tewari and Pankaj Jain told the chief engineer to inform the court of the steps taken restore power.
Senior Standing Counsel Anil Mehta told the court that the “the power failure is on account of acts of sabotage by the striking employees”.