|Wednesday, January 19, 2000,
Kumarmangalam snubs powermen
LUCKNOW, Jan 18 (UNI, PTI) Union Energy Minister P.R. Kumarmangalam today refused to meet agitating Uttar Pradesh State Electricity Board employees and promised the state government cooperation and assistance in its effort to restructure UPSEB.The minister declared as totally wrong the indefinite strike by the UPSEB staff against the trifurcation and assured the state government that in short term, the northern grid will meet the power demands of UP to the extent it falls short of its own generation.
Addressing a press conference here, the minister said he was in the UP capital on the invitation of Chief Minister Ram Prakash Gupta and Energy Minister Naresh Agrawal. He praised them for not budging from their stand against the strike, which had badly affected power supply all over the state. The minister said the Centre would consider the credit terms for payment of dues to central generating public sector units besides helping to provide sound maintenance of power lines and generating units, thereby improving plant load factor.
Mr Kumarmangalam said he failed to understand the logic behind the strike because all the service benefits of the employees had been taken care of while deciding on restructuring. This decision was taken in 1996 during the Chief Ministers conference on power. Only thing is that it is being implemented now, he said.
Meanwhile, Army engineers from Bareilly, Meerut, Jhansi and Allahabad have been deployed at various power stations in Uttar Pradesh to handle the power crisis in the state.
Army columns comprising army engineers, EME and Signal Corps personnel have been deployed at Obra, Anapara, Panki, Harduaganj, Tanda, Paricha and Doon Valley thermal power stations on the request from the Uttar Pradesh Government, an official release said here today.
Army columns at all the power stations are working round the clock and are involved in the operation and maintenance of diesel generator sets, compressors, operating and monitoring the main control rooms and the other infrastructure in conjunction with the engineers of the National Thermal Power Corporation, the release said.
Earlier, the Uttar Pradesh Government cracked down on the power strike dismissing 65 engineers and arresting over 3,500 employees even as employees remained adamant in their opposition to the trifurcation of the state electricity board.
Even as large parts of the state including at least 20 localities here faced unprecedented power cuts, a state government spokesman said in all 3554 striking employees had been arrested and 877 of them let off after an undertaking to rejoin duty.
PSEB sounds alert
CHANDIGARH, Jan 18 While on the call given by the Northern India Power Engineers Federation the Punjab State Electricity Board engineers have started work to rule, the board authorities have sounded an alert in the state to meet any exigency.
The federation has given a call for work to rule in support of the agitating employees of the Uttar Pradesh State Electricity Board. Employees there are opposing the privatisation of the electricity board for the past one week or so. Besides, the federation has given a call to observe stay-in strike by employees of various electricity boards in this region on January 21 in support of the UP board employees.
The Punjab Power Minister, Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, told TNS that the State Government was "seized" of the situation.
"I have had a detailed talk with the Chairman of the PSEB, Mr G.S. Sohal, in this connection and he has said that the PSEB was fully prepared to meet any eventuality in the state", Mr Malooka said. The PSEB Chairman had also held discussions with representatives of the PSEB Engineers Association, who made it clear that they were resorting to work to rule and performing their duties as per norms. Mr Malooka said that PSEB engineers had not abandoned their duties.
Quizzed about reports emerging from Delhi of a possibility of the northern grid collapsing, Mr Malooka said that in case of such an eventuality, the PSEB would delink itself from the grid to avoid the collapsing of the power generating system at various thermal plants in the state. He said the power supply situation in the state was normal and under a pre-decided arrangement, the PSEB was supplying power to Himachal Pradesh.
Mr Malooka said that he had also briefed the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, regarding steps taken by the PSEB, keeping in view the agitation by board employees in UP and its affect on other states, especially those fed by the northern grid.
Informed sources said that the Chief Ministers office was also in touch with the PSEB authorities at its own level to keep itself abreast about the situation. Sources said that the Chief Minister has also called a meeting of the board authorities to have an interaction with them in this connection.
Meanwhile, Mr V.K. Gupta, Secretary of the federation, told TNS that PSEB engineers held protest meetings today at Patiala, Ropar, Bathinda and Chandigarh in support of the Uttar Pradesh power board engineers.
He said the PSEB engineers and employees had formed a joint front to deal with the situation and to counter the threat of privatisation of the board in Punjab also. A rally would be held by the joint front at Patiala on January 21 to express solidarity with the agitating employees of UP and to formulate a strategy for further action.
Mr Gupta said that the federation was of the view that politicians had starved the boards of much-needed investment and they had bled them dry through populism. At present not a single board in the country was financially viable.
Haryana power staff put on alert
CHANDIGARH, Jan 18 The electricity authorities of Haryana have asked its staff to be on alert to prevent any shortfall in the supply of power to the state resulting from the ongoing powermen's strike in Uttar Pradesh.
Ms Meenaxi Anand Chaudhry, chairperson, Haryana Vidyut Prasaran Nigam (HVPN), however, said there would be a fallout of the developments in Uttar Pradesh on Haryana only if the strike affected the Northern Grid.
She said Haryana could not do without the power from the Northern Grid and therefore there was no question of delinking Haryana from the grid to prevent any crisis. She said so far there was no problem in the supply of power by the Northern Grid and the frequency recorded yesterday was 50 and 50 plus which was good.
However, in view of the strike, the staff had been asked to gear up electricity generation units she said. All generation units, including the NTPC plants at Faridabad, were producing power.
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