Wednesday, December 13, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Strike hits power supply
From Tribune Reporters

CHANDIGARH, Dec 12 — People in many parts of Punjab and the Union Territory of Chandigarh had to go without electricity as powermen went on a 24-hour strike this morning along with their counterparts in the country in protest against the proposed Power Bill-2000.

Banks, newspaper offices and shopping complexes were the worst hit. However, there was no report of any subversion or sabotage.

Notwithstanding the strike being declared illegal and adopting the threat of “no work, no pay”, the powermen went on strike in the region.

The striking employees and activists of several student and farmer organisations organised rallies and demonstrations against the Bill. The striking employees submitted memoranda to Deputy Commissioners, urging President K.R. Narayanan not to give his assent to the “anti-people,anti-national draconian Bill”.

The memoranda alleged that the power Bill only favoured multi-national companies. Besides privatisation of power, the Bill, if made a law, would make electricity out of reach of the common man because the tariff would become very high.

The strike in Punjab and Chandigarh was near-total. In neighbouring Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, the employees resorted to a tool-down strike. The affects of the strike were felt most in rural areas.

Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) engineers and other employees started their 24-hour state-wide strike at 0600 hours, while in Chandigarh and elsewhere in the region it commenced at 0800 hours. Most parts of Chandigarh and adjoining urban estates of Panchkula and SAS Nagar went without electricity throughout the day.

A report from Jalandhar said the PSEB engineers and other employees observed a near-total strike in the Doaba region. The region comprised the four revenue districts of Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr.

The most impressive rally was held at Maqsudan in Jalandhar, where 300 striking employees held a noisy demonstration against the power Bill.

The PSEB Employees Struggle Committee Convener, Mr H.S. Minhas, claimed that 80,000 employees in Punjab, including engineers, joined the nationwide strike.

Mr Minhas deplored the Bill, alleging that it aimed at dismantling state electricity boards. He warned that 12 lakh power employees all over the country would oppose tooth and nail the power Bill.

A report from Rohtak in Haryana said a delegation led by the Socialist Unity Centre of India Secretary Satyavan in a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner demanded that the President and the Prime Minister rescind the Bill as its provisions were “anti-people and anti- national.”

The SUCI leaders claimed that besides rallies and demonstrations, powermen in Haryana held rallies and demonstrations against the proposed Bill.

MALERKOTLA: A rally was organised by employees of various PSEB employees unions in front of the main PSEB office here today. More than 800 employees from the area participated in the rally.

Addressing the employees, Mr Harbans Singh, president Sangrur circle, criticised the government for the privatisation and abolition of 7000 posts.

HOSHIARPUR: The employees of the PSEB, Hoshiarpur circle, observed complete strike today to oppose the electricity bill, 2000. Mr Om Parkash, General Secretary of the Punjab Ministerial Services Union of the PSEB, in a press note issued here said reports regarding strike had been received from all over the districts in Punjab. He said the striking employees staged protest rally at 132 KV substation here and warned that the employees would further intensify the agitation if the board was dissolved.

FARIDABAD: The one-day token strike by the engineers and employees of the Power Department in protest against the introduction of Power Bill-2000 by the Union Government passed off peacefully.

The protesting employees remained absent from their work and made human chains at various places, besides organising demonstrations and processions.

NAWANSHAHR: The employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board observed a strike here today on the call given by the National Coordination Committee of Electricity Employees and Engineers Association to protest against the power bill, 2000. The employees held gate rallies in front of the PSEB offices at Nawanshahr, Rahon, Banga, Behram, Garshanker and Balachaur.

Reports of the strike were also received from Ropar, Batala, Rohtak, Yamunanagar and Sangrur.

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