Hyderabad: The indefinite general strike in Andhra Pradesh`s Telangana region to demand a separate state continued for the third day on Thursday, crippling the administration.
Over 400,000 government employees in Hyderabad and nine other districts of Telangana stayed away from work, affecting the delivery of public services and revenue collection.
Authorities Thursday also imposed two- to four-hour power cuts as thermal power generation came to a standstill due to the continuing strike by employees in state-owned Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SSCL).
Tension prevailed at the state assembly as Telangana leaders from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) tried to lock the building to protest what they called "injustice" to the region and policemen stopped them.
TDP Telangana Forum leader E. Dayakar Rao told reporters that since 80 percent of employees in both the assembly and the state secretariat are from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, the government was trying to give the impression that the strike has had no impact.
The assembly and the secretariat should have 45 percent of employees from Telangana but gross injustice was being meted out to the region, he said.
For the second consecutive day, cinema theatres in Telangana remained closed to express solidarity with the `sakala janula samme` or strike by all sections of people called by Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC).
Striking employees, students, teachers, lawyers and activists of various pro-Telangana groups staged protests, formed human chains and took out rallies in different parts of the region.
The strike is likely to further intensify with over 150,000 government teachers planning to join the protest from Friday. Telangana teachers and JAC leaders said they would lock schools and colleges.
Adding to the government`s woes, employees of electricity department and state-owned Road Transport Corporation have also decided to join the strike from Sep 19.
Telangana JAC chairman M Kodandaram on Thursday called upon the people to intensify the strike while Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy appealed to employees to call off the work stoppage as it was causing hardships to people.
The chief minister said a separate Telangana could not be achieved by the strike. The cabinet sub-committee headed by Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarasimha held a meeting in Hyderabad to review the situation.
With the strike causing huge losses to the state exchequer, the government is contemplating using the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) and the no-work, no-pay rule.
However, Minister for Infrastructure Komatireddy Ventaka Reddy, who hails from Telangana, has warned against the invocation of the ESMA against employees, and said it would not be tolerated.
Pro-Telangana lawyers tried to lay siege to Gandhi Bhavan, headquarters of the ruling Congress, demanding that Congress legislators from Telangana quit to press the demand for statehood.