Hyderabad: Electricity employees continued their strike for the fourth consecutive day Wednesday, plunging Seemandhra into chaos. Over six lakh other government employees struck work to protest the decision to divide Andhra Pradesh and create a Telangana state.
A majority of 13 districts of Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra) faced severe hardships, with a prolonged spell of no electricity. Medical services were worst-hit, with many government and private hospitals putting off surgeries. Doctors at government hospitals joined the strike, adding to the woes of patients.
Also Read: Telangana stir: As it happened on Wednesday
Industrial production came to a standstill, while airports at Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada were running on back-up power. Movement of trains was affected.
About 4,000 MW generation has come to a halt, as employees at all major thermal and hydel power plants struck work.
The sprawling region with a population of over five crore saw work at government offices and educational institutions grind to a halt. Buses of the state-owned road transport corporation have been off the roads for nearly two months.
Talks between Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and leaders of the striking employees Wednesday failed to reach a solution, as employees refused to call off the strike till a clear assurance was offered that the state would not be divided.
Kiran Reddy appealed to employees to end the strike in view of the hardships caused to common people, and said the state would remain united. He said the Telangana bill would be defeated in the assembly. However, employees insisted on an assurance from the centre and all political parties that the state would stay united.
During the talks with the chief minister Tuesday night, the Joint Action Committee of Seemandhra electricity employees refused to end the strike without a firm assurance that the state would not be divided.
Protests against the centre`s decision to form a new state of Telangana continued in Seemandhra for the 71st day Wednesday.
Protestors included government employees, teachers and students. There were rallies, human chains, hunger strikes and sit-ins to demand that the centre keep the state united.
Curfew in violence-hit Vizianagaram town in north coastal Andhra was relaxed for two hours Wednesday morning. With the improvement in the situation, the authorities have decided to relax curfew for four hours Thursday.
The first meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted by the centre to work out modalities for the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh will be held in Delhi Oct 11.
The seven-member GoM will be chaired by union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde in the absence of ailing Defence Minister A.K. Antony.
Congress leaders from Seemandhra, however, have decided to boycott the GoM.
State minister S. Sailajanth, who is leading the group of ministers opposed to the bifurcation of the state, said a GoM without representation from the state could not decide on the future of Andhra Pradesh.
Congress leaders also constituted a 17-member coordination committee to oppose the state`s division. To be headed by Sailajanth, this committee comprises 10 state ministers and seven legislators.
In Delhi, YSR Congress party honorary president Y.S. Vijayamma Wednesday called on President Pranab Mukherjee and urged him to keep Andhra Pradesh united.
Her son and party president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy continued his indefinite fast in Hyderabad on the fifth day, despite deteriorating health.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu continued his fast at Andhra Pradesh Bhavan in New Delhi on the third day Wednesday, despite being directed to vacate the place.
A delegation of leaders of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Wednesday met Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and urged him to dismiss Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy for his bias towards one region, and recommend President`s rule.
The delegation said administration in the state had come to a standstill.