Shimla, Feb 8
Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Technical staff unions blamed the state government for not providing them snow kits thus forcing the staff to work in inclement weather conditions during snowy time. The lack of proper kits thus results in delayed back-up/ maintenance thus forcing the people of the State to grope in darkness without power for five to six days. Ashok Sharma president of HPSEB Technical Union said that recent snowfall disrupted power supply in most of lines forcing the field staff to works days and night in the extreme cold wave conditions to restore the power.
Allegation 1 :Despite recommendations kits were not provided to filed staff
”Despite passing standing instructions to all Superintending engineers (SEs) for distribution of snow kits to field staffs in December last year the officers did not deem it right,” the press statement issued here stated.
Sharma alleged that snow kits were issued by the SEs to themselves, office employees and outsource employees working in the stores however field staff who were restoring power supply in the snow for four to five days in the extreme winter and highly rough weather conditions did not get the snow kits. ”
Warning to cordon the SEs office over the callous attitude being adopted toward them the union leader said that it displays meanness of the officers by forcing the deserving staff to serve in unsafe and adverse conditions in forests, along rivers and in the open places.”
Allegation 2 : Meagre staff
The union leaders also alleged that SEs have converted number of field staff to office workers leading to massive shortage in the field. The union alleged that nine technical staff members are posted in the City Division however only two to five are available on the field. Only one to six employees were posted under one divisions however negligible of them are serving on the field duties.
The understaffed technical employees were working under pressure and inviting a number of fatal incidents while working in hazardous conditions.
Demand Intervention from State High court
Seeking interventions of Himachal Pradesh High court the technical staff unions said that those technical staff members who are posted in the office or confined to offices should be ordered to join their field duties and action should be taken against the HPSEB for changing their duties against their jobs profiles.
CPI(M) member of assembly from Theog Rakesh Singha alleged that power situations in different parts of the state especially Theog , Chopal , Rohru, Anni and Rampur are not improved. He said that basic reasons is due to inadequate staff. When the HPSEB had six lakh electricity connections the total staff members in the State board were around 44000 however when number of connections have been increased to 21 lakh, staff strength came down to around 19000. He alleged that strategy is to hand over the assets of the electricity department to the private companies in time to come.
There are a number of outsource employees who have no job security moreover a number of Kashmiri contractors have been forced to rope in to lay power lines, repair them in case of disruption due to snowfall or windstorms. Most of power lines in the heavy snowbound areas were repaired by the Kashmir labour contractors, he asserted.