Srinagar: National Conference on Sunday stated that J&K government lacks the political authority to privatise the power sector saying in current circumstances the measure will put extra burden on consumers by making basic public services cost more.
“Most areas in J&K are reeling through massive power outages over the past 24 hours as government has failed to negotiate with the protesting PDD employees,” said NC General Secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar in a statement.
He said that the government proposal of having a joint venture should have taken the concerns of the employees on board but they have failed to do so. Besides such far reaching decisions should be left to democratic governments to decide and take action upon, Sagar said.
“A profit-seeking operation may not choose to provide us electricity to the poor at affordable rates. It might not provide health care and other employment benefits to the indigent employee, who puts his life at risk while ensuring round the clock electricity to consumers,” he added.
The proposed measure of handing over grids to private players, according to Sagar, is a step in the wrong direction. “At a time when our economy is struggling to revive, the GOI and JK administration are curbing the people’s right to energy. What is more worrying is that stakeholders, the local MPs, political representatives, civil society and employees representatives are not being involved at any level and the decision is being thrust on Jammu and Kashmir without any consultation. Local voices are not being heard, everyone has been cast aside. It’s all one way traffic.”
He asked the government to look into the demands of thousands of employees of the power development department in Jammu and Kashmir who have gone on indefinite strike against the privatization of grid stations. “The employees, under the banner of Power Employees and Engineers Coordination Committee (PEECC), J&K are demanding white paper on non-creations and regularization of engineers and PDL, TDL staff and casual laborers besides opposing any move by the government to privatize this vital sector,” he said.
Sagar said that the government did not fulfill its previous promises made to the employees which is sheer injustice with them. “The Power Development Department was converted into a Corporation and the employees were assured release of timely wages, promotions, and regularization of daily wagers. However, it did not happen,” he said.
The government indifference to the protesting PDD employees, Sagar said has compounded the woes of consumers, who he rued were already suffering on account of the looming power crisis in Kashmir. “Come winters and the valley is beset with darkness, the scenario has worsened this year drastically. The erratic power supply is playing hide and seek with the government, in particular the civil administration has left people to fend for themselves. The hapless consumers don’t know how to brave the ongoing chill with no adequate power supply,” he said, adding that the priority of the LG Govt and GOI should be to ensure effective public utility services.