1.25 lakh MSEB employees withdraw strike after Maha govt intervenes
Over 86,000 employees of the MSEB's three companies and 40,000 contract workers, who launched a 72-hour strike, called off the agitation after the state government's intervention, top leaders said.
Over 86,000 employees of the Maharashtra State Electricity Board's three companies and 40,000 contract workers, who launched a 72-hour strike from Wednesday, called off the agitation after the state government's intervention, top leaders said.
The strikers were protesting the purported entry of Adani Group's Adani Transmission Ltd (ATL) into the power distribution business in Mumbai and other parts, with all employees from the MahaGenco, MahaTransco, and MSEDCL joining the agitation, said the MNS Vij Karmachari Union office-bearer Anil Gosavi.
Acting fast amid reports of power blackouts emanating from different parts of the state since midnight, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis called all the 32 union leaders to hammer out a solution, besides invoking the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act.
Later, Fadnavis and the unions announced that after satisfactory discussions, the strike was being withdrawn with immediate effect, said MNS Vij Karmachari Union Working President Rakesh Jadhav.
"The state government is not interested in privatising any of these companies. In fact, the government will invest over Rs 50,000 crore towards infrastructure assets in these companies in the next three years," said Fadnavis.
Referring to the 'parallel licences' question objected to by the unions and why the government was not contesting it, he said that the administration will contest it as per the laws after the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commissioner (MERC) issues its notification.
"The unions wanted it to be challenged as the private companies' entry would hit the government and the electricity consumers. I have categorically assured that we shall contest it within the available legal framework," Fadnavis said.
Even other issues like the regularisation of the 40,000 contract employees would be considered after taking into account their age factor and explore whether they can be absorbed under a special scheme, he added.
Earlier, Gosavi said all the unions are strongly opposed to the entry of ATL applying to the MERC for a license to supply power to areas like Mulund, Bhandup (Mumbai), Navi Mumbai, Panvel (Raigad), and Thane.
MSEB Workers Federation President Mohan Sharma has said that the areas eyed by Adani Group are currently served by the MSEDCL and the move would raise fears of privatisation.
The ATL has been supplying power to 3.10 million consumers in most parts of the eastern and western suburbs of north Mumbai since the past several years.
The unions' main demands were: no to ATL's entry to distribute power in more areas of Mumbai and surroundings, regularisation of the 40,000 contract workers through a special recruitment drive, no to privatisation of hydro and thermal power plants and stopping private players from laying transmission lines and setting up new sub-stations.
Earlier, BJP leader and MSEB Holding Co Director Vishwas Pathak had assured that the people should not worry about any power problems as the striking employees will change their minds, even as alternative arrangements were in place to ensure uninterrupted power supply.
The unions claimed that there were power outages in nearly 50 per cent of the state "for which the state government is responsible".