PUDUCHERRY: Two companies of Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF) personnel were stationed on major roads and in front of power installations in Puducherry on Sunday, based on the request of the territorial government, after alleged acts of sabotage by electricity department staff, plunged parts of the Union Territory into the darkness since Saturday.
While power supply was restored at most places by late Saturday, outages continued on Sunday in some parts of Villiyanur and Ariyapalayam. Lieutenant-Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan warned of severe action under Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) against those disturbing public services.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, the L-G said, “After some people took away fuse carriers in sub-stations, the general public, including patients, were affected by artificial power cuts. Severe action will be taken against those who commit such acts. The government will take all measures to ensure people’s safety.”
Protests broke out across Puducherry late on Saturday after multiple places experienced power cuts for nearly five hours. People blocked roads at major junctions including Nellithope, New Bus Stand, Raja Theatre Signal, and in rural areas of Sedrapet and Madagadipet.
While independent MLAs G Nehru and J Prakash Kumar came to the secretariat and sat in protest at the entrance, Congress MLA M Vaithianathan blocked traffic on East Coast Road at Karuvadikuppam along with residents.
Traffic hit for over two hours at many areas in UT amid power cuts
Stranded vehicles caused traffic pileups for more than two hours across the city on Saturday. Home minister A Namassivayam, who also holds the power portfolio, held an emergency meeting with Chief Secretary Rajeev Verma, Electricity Department Secretary Dr T Arun, and DGP Manoj Kumar Lal on Saturday night.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Namassivayam said the UT government has requested the Centre to deploy 24 officials from the Power Grid Corporation of India to tackle the situation. “We have also asked the Centre to deploy two companies of paramilitary force personnel to guard power installations,” he said.
“Though the government tried to hold talks, the protesting workers were not ready for negotiations. Some staff took away fuse carriers at Villiyanur, Bahour, and Thondamanatham sub-stations to cause deliberate power cuts. Workers involved in acts of sabotage will face severe action. MLAs must not support such workers.
We are ready to support electricity department employees to resolve all issues,” Namassivayam said. Employees of the Puducherry Electricity Department have been on indefinite strike since September 28 to protest against the government’s move to invite tender to privatise power distribution in the UT. Power cuts extending up to 10 hours and isolated protests by residents were being reported in a few places since Thursday.