South India under blackout threat with electricity department employees' strike
The Government of India is worried as South India faces severe threat of total blackout due to the strike by electricity department employees in Seemandhra region, is leading for collapse of the power grid. More than 30,000 staff of the electricity department are determined to continue their indefinite strike protesting against union cabinet giving nod for Telangana. In fact, they are opposing bifurcation of the state.
Due to strict instruction from the Centre, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh
Kiran Kumar Reddy, who was remaining as a silent spectator since more than two months towards ongoing severe agitation in Seemandhra region, for the first time swung into action and held talks with electricity employees. But his efforts to persuade them to withdrawn from their strike keeping in view of public sufferings in the absence of power supply failed to yield results. He failed to convince them through dialogue.
The Chief Minister, along with a group of ministers comprising Finance Minister Anam Ramanarayana Reddy and Social Welfare Minister P Satyanarayana, held two rounds of negotiations with the striking employees on Tuesday, but to no avail. The talks failed to break any ice, as the Seemandhra electricity employees’ Joint Action Committee leaders were adamant on continuing their strike. They turned down the Chief Minister’s appeal to exempt the emergency services from the strike. “We have decided to continue the strike,” JAC chairman Saibaba said after the meeting.
The employees vowed to continue their stir till the Centre gave an assurance on keeping the State united. The Chief Minister is expected to hold another round of talks with the electricity employees on Wednesday in a bid to end the impasse. The indefinite strike led to massive power outages, crippling normal life across the state. The power crisis hit the Seemandhra region the hardest, disrupting essential services.
The state capital of Hyderabad
is also experiencing extended power cuts. While airports in Seemandhra have been operating on back-up systems, train services were the worst hit, forcing Railways to either cancel or reschedule important trains. The mobile phone services are down across much of the state; Internet and ATM services have also been affected. Hospitals in Seemandhra, especially, have been badly hit. Incubators at Vishakhapatnam's King George Hospital, the city's only super-specialty government hospital, is not working properly.
The lack of air conditioning has also affected patients with burn injuries and other such ailments. According to official sources, about 4,000 MW of power generation has been impacted due to the ongoing agitation. The State has a demand of 11,000 MW, but only 7,200 MW is being supplied.
According to officials of Andhra Pradesh Generation Corporation (AP Genco), generation of 3,870 MW has come to a halt. The authorities are purchasing 24 million units from outside the state to make up for the deficit.
Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka
wrote to the Central Electricity Authority warning of a possible failure of the southern power grid, which could lead to a total blackout across all Southern States. The authorities are taking steps to prevent grid collapse by purchasing additional power to maintain grid frequency. Apparently worried over the development, the Centre indicated that it might invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) to restore power situation in the state.