PUDUCHERRY: Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy today warned employees of the Puducherry Electricity Department (PED), who are on strike, of invoking the Essential Service Maintenance Act (ESMA) against them, if they continued with their strike affecting people.
The employees have gone on strike following the central government’s directive to the Puducherry government to initiate the process of privatisation of power transmission and distribution, which at present is being done by the PED.
Briefing newsmen on Saturday, Narayanasamy maintained that he is against privatization, but advised the employees to move court, saying the government is there to support them.
Narayanasamy said when the Centre put forth the proposal for privatisation, he along with electricity minister R Kamalakannan had written to the Prime Minister that it could not be accepted. PED is involved in power distribution and transmission and is not running losses. Besides, the PED was providing power subsidies to farmers and poor, which would go after privatisation.
Narayanasamy said when the Centre took steps to go ahead without considering the views of the state government and sent a communication earlier this week, he in turn held a meeting with employees union leaders and asked them to move the court and not resort to any agitation. They were also requested to ensure that the public are not affected and they accepted the suggestion.
However, they resorted to a strike and failed to attend work when power supply was disrupted in several parts of Puducherry under the impact of the heavy rainfall and they continued to remain on strike without attending work.
Meanwhile, people came out on the streets in protest against power failures. Residents of Pakkumudianpet area resorted to a road blockade on Saturday evening protesting against power outage in their area.
All political parties are opposed to privatisation and point to the unanimous resolution adopted in the Legislative Assembly against privatisation of power distribution and transmission. However, they are also against the strike by the employees affecting people.
AIADMK urges govt to invoke ESMA against electricity dept employees
Meanwhile, Puducherry AIADMK MLA Vaiyapuri Manikandan urged the government to invoke ESMA against the employees of PED who are on strike. In a memorandum to the Lt Governor, he said that people have gone without power for several hours and have suffered a lot. The employees are not attending faults. No official is reachable to hear complaints or set right the problem, he said.
Viswanathan Nagar near Muthialpet market had power outage for 10 hours on Friday and with no one responding from the electricity department, the fuse was rectified by a private agency, called for the purpose, he said.