Hyderabad: Employees of the power sector in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions of Andhra Pradesh will continue with their indefinite strike as talks with the government to end the stalemate failed late on Tuesday tonight.
The Electricity Employees Joint Action Committee, that held second round of talks with Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy for over two hours in the night, refused to heed his advice and decided to continue the strike, which is part of the agitation against proposed division of the state.
Highly-placed sources in the State Energy Department, however, said they were "managing" things with the available power and ensuring that the southern power grid was not affected because of the strike.
"There is no problem to the grid as of now. We will see it doesn`t collapse," a top department official said.
"The Chief Minister requested us to call off the indefinite strike but we refused. We will not exempt even emergency services from the strike," JAC leader Saibabu told reporters outside the CM`s camp office here.
More than 30,000 employees of AP Power Generation Corporation, AP Power Transmission Corporation, AP Southern Power Distribution Company and AP Eastern Power Distribution Company have launched an indefinite strike demanding the Centre immediately withdraw the move to bifurcate the state.
Another 20,000 contract workers also joined the strike, throwing the entire power generation and distribution system in 13 Seemaandhra districts out of gear for the past two days. Emergency services like hospitals and Railways, too, were hit.
The CM reportedly told the JAC leaders that putting people to hardship was not right and wanted them to withdraw the stir. "As politicians, we will continue to fight for a united state. You please resume duties in the interest of people," Kiran told them.
The JAC leaders, however, rejected his plea, saying they would not withdraw till the Centre came out with a clear statement on stalling the bifurcation process.
Prior to the strike, AP was getting 11,000 MW, both from the generating stations in the State and outside sources.
Now, the available power has dropped to 8,500 MW, resulting in power blackout in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema besides disruption in supply to Hyderabad city.
The 8,500 MW of power is being proportionally utilised by all four distribution companies in the state, including two in Telangana, but with staff members of Transco and Discoms on strike supply has been largely hampered in Seemaandhra.
Train services were the worst hit because of the power outage, forcing the East Coast Railway to either cancel or reschedule important trains.
The South Central Railway, however, said it has not cancelled any trains but many of them were running behind schedule.
With the strike threatening to affect the southern power grid, possibly leading to a total blackout in all the southern states, the AP government invited the Electricity JAC leaders for talks to end the strike.
Earlier in the day, the Cabinet sub-committee on employees issues, comprising Finance Minister Anam Ramanarayana Reddy and others, held talks with the JAC. Chief Secretary PK Mohanty and top officials of the Energy Department also took part in the talks.
With the JAC seeking a firm assurance that the state would be kept united, the Kiran Reddy government appeared helpless to tide over the power crisis.
Meanwhile, a report from Kadapa district said five units of RTPP (Rayalaseema Thermal Power Project) there remained closed for the fourth day today. These units generate 1,050 MW of power.
All the central government offices and banks remained shut in the district today also as part of the ongoing united Andhra Pradesh agitation. Twenty-one employees of various government departments continued their mass hunger strike at Proddatur on the second day.
Another report from Rajahmundry said eight power plants in East Godavari district, two of them hydro projects, were unable to produce electricity due to the employee strike.
"GVK, GMR, Vijjeswaram, Konaseem, Vemagiri, APSEB units and two hydro power plants - Donkarayi and Kolluru - were unable to produce power due to the ongoing strike by the employees of AP Power Transmission Corp," an official said.
The coastal district also saw various forms of protests against the proposed bifurcation.