Power-less in Andhra

Can’t imagine,can you, life without power supply. And people in Andhra Pradesh have been without electricity for the past three days, as the state’s electricity employees continue their strike. Their demand has little to do with pay, perks or service conditions.  Power shutdown has brought life to a stand still. Schools are closed; hospitals can’t function effectively. Train services get disrupted. Petrol, they say, sells at Rs.180 per litre. 

And the state electricity employees unions  wouldn’t let their members resume work till their demand is met. They want the govt. to reverse its decision to divide Andhra and create a Telengana, If the govt. were to concede, it would trigger agitation by another set of people – Telegana supporters.  However, it must be conceded, the electricity employees  have been the last to join – only a few days back –  in a statewide govt. employees agitation that has been going on for over two months now.

One would  presume that employees unions  are meant to fight for better pay, service conditions and general well being of their employees. How could they justify the current strike,  holding  the state to ransom and inflicting hardship on people of the state ? Doesn’t power supply come under the category of essential services ? Aren’t those employed for  maintenance of the essential services accountable; shouldn’t they feel a sense of  social responsibility ?  Isn’t there a regulation setting limits on work stoppage by workers in essential services ?

Meanwhile we have now a court ruling that declares denial of power supply to people as violation of human rights. In a case that is in no way related to the Andhra power workers strike, Madras High Court, has said: “Access to electricity should be construed as a human right. Denial of it would amount of violation of human rights”. The court ruling pertains to a case of denial of power supply to some residents in Tiruvannamalai by the authorities.

Whether it is the govt. or striking employees, it is the people who are victimised. Point is, the striking workers who are guilty of violation of people’s rights are often allowed to get away with it.