UP power strike casts shadow on law and order situation
Lucknow, March 19 (IANS) As the strike by power employees in Uttar Pradesh entered its third day on Sunday, the law-and-order situation in several districts is getting disrupted due to protests and demonstrations by people facing prolonged power cuts.
Electricity department employees in Farrukhabad, Muzaffarnagar, Prayagraj, Hardoi, Firozabad, Moradabad, Etah, Varanasi and Rae Bareli have launched protests against the dismissal of contractual employees.
Their leaders have warned that if the workers are dismissed or arrested, the symbolic strike would turn into an indefinite strike.
Meanwhile, around 1,000 villages in Rae Bareli have plunged into darkness and the power crisis has continued unabated in 70 localities of the urban area where people have run out of drinking water.
The non-availability of electricity has disrupted health services in Rae Bareli as AIIMS and other hospitals are without power. However, intermittent attempts are being made to solve the crisis through generators.
As many as 27 out of 54 power stations have developed faults in 33 KVA lines, adding to power cuts.
In Varanasi, residents took to the streets due to the continuous and prolonged power cuts. The protesters also organised the Chakka Jam at the Bhadaini power sub-station.
Similar reports are coming in from other districts.
It may be recalled that power department employees in Uttar Pradesh have been on a strike since Thursday night over the selection process for chairman and the managing director in power companies and pay anomalies.
The Yogi-Adityanath government has said if the strike creates problems for the public, it will take action against the protesting employees under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) and threatened to sack contractual workers who do not return to work.
It also said action would be initiated under the National Security Act in case vandalism occurs during demonstrations.
Employees, under the banner of Vidyut Karmachari Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti, a union of electricity department employees, have been holding demonstrations across the state.
UP Energy Minister A.K. Sharma has again issued a stern warning to electricity department employees on strike, directing them to join their duties by 6 p.m., or face dismissal.
"A decision has been taken to initiate action against 22 people from the department under the ESMA (Essential Services Maintenance Act). Apart from this, instructions have also been issued to lodge an FIR against those damaging government property and obstructing others from discharging their duties. An FIR has been registered against 29 people in this matter," the minister said.