Hyderabad: Electricity employees continued their strike for the fourth consecutive day yesterday, plunging Seemandhra into chaos. Over 600,000 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. 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 50 millon 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 yesterday 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 on 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 yesterday.
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 yesterday morning. With the improvement in the situation, the authorities have decided to relax curfew for four hours today.