60% of power supply restored in J&K: LG

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Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Monday said 60 per cent electricity in the Union Territory (UT) was restored and by tomorrow administration will achieve 100 per cent restoration.

The UT has been facing a widespread power shutdown Since Sunday owing to a deadlock between the Power Development Department (PDD) employees and the administration over the latter’s bid to privatise electricity in the region.

LG said talks were held with the striking employees and as of today no dues and salary are pending on part of the government.

“We restored 60 per cent electricity and by tomorrow we will achieve 100 restoration, Sinha said on the sidelines of a function here.

“I do not want to name them, but some people have criticized that the army has been called to restore electricity. Personnel from REC, NTPC, NHPC, and officers from the army engineering corps have also come. This only shows our commitment, he said.

Residents of many cities and towns in Jammu & Kashmir faced power shutdown on second consecutive day, as PDD employees continued their strike against the proposed merger of PDD with Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCI) in the Union Territory.

Jammu University has postponed offline and online examination for undergraduate and postgraduate students tomorrow in view of the strike.

The PDD employees held anti-government protests in Srinagar and Jammu demanding in writing from the Lieutenant Governor an assurance that it has shelved the proposal of merger.

According to sources, while the administration parleyed with the employees, it also visited several power distribution facilities in Jammu to speed up restoration of electric supply.

The administration in its talks with the employees was represented by divisional commissioner, Jammu, Raghav Langar, and additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Mukesh Singh.

The deadlock between the two bodies has put thousands of J&K residents in extreme hardship amid bone-chilling winter, including hundreds of COVID-19 patients who struggled to keep their oxygen concentrators on.

The government has made an appeal to employees to call off their strike and has offered to put on hold its privatisation plan, but employees are insisting on a written assurance.

Talking to reporters here, a spokesman of protesting employees said they are ready to call off strike provided government gives them in writing assurance for their four core demands, particularly regarding privatisation and release of their salaries.

Over 20,000 employees of the PDD are on strike.

On Sunday, Langer wrote to the department of military affairs, ministry of defence, requesting army’s assistance in the restoration of essential services.

Since then the army has been deployed to restore essential services, officials said.

The deployment was made following a requisition by the administration to the army, the officials said.

The army acted swiftly and deployed its troops at critical electricity stations and water supply sources to restore power supply, they said.

Langar on Sunday said the government has already acceded to all demands of the striking employees, including the proposed joint venture.

He also described the power reforms as “inevitable”.

There have been few rounds of talks already at various levels with the PDD employees the power sector reforms are inevitable and the government of India has clearly told us to ensure that the reformation is seen through, Langer said.

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