Lucknow, March 18
Uttar Pradesh’s Energy Minister A K Sharma on Saturday issued a stern warning to electricity department employees on strike, directing them to join their duties by 6 pm, or face dismissal.
The state-wide strike of electricity department employees continued for the second day on Saturday with their leaders warning that if the workers were dismissed or arrested, the 72-hour symbolic strike would turn into an indefinite strike.
In a statement on Saturday, leaders of Vidyut Karmachari Sanyukta Sangharsh Samiti also warned that all electrical workers, junior engineers of energy corporations, engineers and contract workers will start a mass ‘jail bharo’ movement.
According to officials, the Ballia district administration has started lodging cases against employees of the electricity department found absent from duty without authorisation.
“A decision has been taken to initiate action against 22 people from the department under ESMA (the Essential Services Maintenance Act). Apart from this, instructions have also been issued to lodge FIR against those damaging government property and obstructing others from discharging their duties. FIR has been registered against 29 people in this matter,” the minister said.
“Services of 1,332 contractual employees have been terminated. I again request all contractual employees to resume their duties by 6 pm, else they will be dismissed from service tonight,” he said.
He added that the outsourcing companies have been told to recruit new people to replace the dismissed employees.
“A list of people who have passed from ITIs, polytechnics and engineering colleges should be prepared who could be hired as apprentices. A decision (on whether to continue with their service or not) will be taken later,” Sharma said.
In Ballia, a case was lodged against two electricity department employees who were found missing from a power transmission facility.
According to a statement issued by the district information department on Saturday, District Magistrate Ravindra Kumar and Superintendent of Police Raj Karan Nayyar inspected different facilities.
During the inspection, two staff supervisors posted at Vishnupur power house were found to be absent. On the direction of the district magistrate, a case was lodged against the absent employees, the statement said.
The district magistrate all directed deployment of police force around all power houses and to take strict action if any miscreants try to cause trouble there, it added.
According to Shailendra Dubey, the convenor of Vidyut Karmacharis Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti, there are 70,000 contractual employees in the electricity department.
“The Obra Thermal Power Plant has come to a standstill. All five units have shut down. The (electricity) production of Obra is zero,” Dubey claimed, adding, the protest has led to a massive disruption in electricity supply in some parts of the state.
Energy minister Sharma said that efforts are on to have a dialogue with the protesting employees. The protesters, however, have sought Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s intervention to end the “atmosphere of confrontation”.
They alleged that some of their demands relating to pay anomalies and outsourcing of operation and maintenance of power sub-stations, agreed to by the state government in December last year, have not been fulfilled by power corporations even after three months.
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