Home / Politics / Policy /  As cyclone nears, Seemandhra power employees call off strike


Power workers in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday suspended their six-day-old strike action in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions in view of a cyclone that is set to hit the state’s coast in the next 24 hours.

The Seemandhra Electricity Employees Joint Action Committee (SEEJAC), which is protesting the planned division of the state by the Union government, announced the suspension after meeting chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy at the state secretariat on Thursday.

Electricity will now be restored in 13 districts of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions, jointly called Seemandhra, from 6 am on Friday, leaders of SEEJAC told reporters.

“We are not calling off the strike—this is just temporary," said R. Saibaba, a leader of SEEJAC in Hyderabad.

The power outage has disrupted life in large parts of the state, including in the state capital Hyderabad, which had to cope with unscheduled power cuts for 1-2 hours a day. In the 13 districts of Seemandhra, the situation was worse, with power being disrupted for more than 12 hours.

Non-critical surgeries were postponed, trains were cancelled or running late and airports had to be run on generators. Small and medium scale industries had to either operate on diesel generators or declare holidays.

The strike action also threatened to trip the Southern grid, prompting Union power ministry officials to closely monitor the situation as this would have affected electricity distribution across the region—in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry as well.

The boycott of duties took almost 3,600 MW off the state’s electricity grid.

“This is just a sample," said Saibaba. But he added: “Our intention is not to trouble the public." A deep depression in the Bay of Bengal has turned into a cyclonic storm, named Phailin, prompting the governments of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh to put emergency workers on high alert.

Cyclone Phailin is expected to intensify in the next 12 hours and hit north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast between Kalingapatnam and Paradip by Saturday night with wind speeds of 175-185 km per hour (kmph), India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in a bulletin on Thursday.

“At least 28 teams of National Disaster Response Forces are available to the Odisha government for evacuation and relief operations and 15 teams have been alerted in Andhra Pradesh," said M. Shashidhar Reddy, vice-chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), at a press conference at the IMD office in New Delhi. Each team of NDRF has 35-45 personnel. About 45,000 electricity department employees of Andhra Pradesh Power Generation Corp. Ltd, Transmission Corp. of Andhra Pradesh Ltd, Southern Power Distribution Co. of Andhra Pradesh Ltd and Eastern Power Distribution Co. of AP Ltd joined 300,000 state government employees affiliated to the Andhra Pradesh Non-Gazetted Officers (APNGO) association on 5 October in a bid to pressurize the Union government to take back its decision to carve a Telangana state out of Andhra Pradesh.

APNGOs, who have stayed off work for 72 days, on Wednesday said some of its employees will return to work in districts that could be affected, even as a boycott by other members continued.

Electricity employees, however, said they would all return to work. “If the need arises in the coming days, we will not hesitate to go on strike again," Saibaba said.

The 72-day boycott by workers of state-owned public transport provider, Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC), also showed signs of ending, with representatives responding favourably after a meeting with state transport minister Botsa Satyanarayana. The workers, whose strike resulted in a 650 crore loss to the corporation, will again meet Satyanarayana on Friday.

Congress rebel and YSR Congress Party president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, whose indefinite hunger strike was disrupted by the police late Thursday night, will take two more days to recover, doctors at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences, where he was admitted, said. Jagan Reddy was forcibly administered intravenous fluids with the help of police after his admission, the hospital said.

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