Centre rules out Prez rule in AP, power situation worsens
As protests continued in violence-hit Seemandhra region, the Centre today ruled out imposition of President's rule in Andhra Pradesh and also indicated that ESMA may be clamped after power outages worsened disrupting essential services and transportation.
Talks between Electricity Employees' Joint Action Committee (JAC) and the state government to bring the ongoing indefinite strike to an end, meanwhile, proved inconclusive.
Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy is due to hold another round of talks with JAC in a bid to end the impasse after large parts of Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema continued to reel under power crisis following the strike by electricity employees against the decision to bifurcate the state.
According to reports, the power blackout has hit hospital services while airports in Seemandhra region were operating on backup systems. Train services were reported to be the worst hit forcing the East Coast Railway to either cancel or reschedule important trains.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde ruled out the possibility of imposing President's rule in AP in the wake of continuing protests in Seemandhra region on the Telangana statehood issue.
"There is no plan under consideration to impose President's rule in Andhra Pradesh. There was no such discussion in today's Cabinet (meeting)," he told reporters in Delhi.
The Home Minister said the widespread agitation in Seemandhra was a matter of grave concern to the Centre.
He said the Centre fully respects the sentiments of the people of the region on this sensitive issue.
"I would like to assure the people of Seemandhra that the Government of India remains fully committed to address all their concerns," he said.
Referring to the prevailing situation in Seemandhra region, the Home Minister said government was trying to restore normalcy, especially in regard to the power situation.
Shinde indicated that the Essential Services Maintenance Act(ESMA) may be imposed to restore power situation in Seemandhra region and said the state government was talking to the stake holders on how to bring normalcy.
"State government is in talks with stake holders over ESMA," he said.
The power generation remained crippled at the major power stations including Vijayawada thermal power station and the Rayalaseema thermal power station, forcing the authorities to impose power cuts ranging between three and ten hours.
According to official sources, the total demand was 11,000 MW, while the supply was 7,500 MW.Shinde also ruled out the possibility of southern grid failure due to the strike by electricity workers.
He criticised YSR Congress chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu for going on an indefinite hunger strike saying both the leaders had given written consent for creation of Telanagana.
"I don't understand why they are on fast now," he said. "The power generation was affected mostly in the power plants located in Seemandhra regions. These include both thermal and hydel," an official in Hyderabad told PTI.
Appealing to the employees to end their strike, state Congress president Botsa Satyanarayana said he would write a letter to the Centre to call an all-party meeting towards finding a solution to the issue.
"There is no clarity on different issues. We will come for talks again in the evening," JAC chairman Saibabu told reporters in Hyderabad, emerging out of the Chief Minister's camp office.
More than 30,000 employees of the AP Power Generation Corporation, AP Power Transmission Corporation, AP Southern Power Distribution Company and AP Eastern Power Distribution Company launched an indefinite strike yesterday demanding that the Centre immediately withdraw the move to bifurcate AP.
The strike has resulted in power blackout in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema districts besides affecting power supply to Hyderabad city.
With the strike threatening to affect the Southern Power Grid, which could lead to a total blackout all across southern states, the AP government invited the Electricity Employees' JAC leaders for talks.
The cabinet sub-committee on employees' issues comprising AP finance minister Anam Ramanarayana Reddy and others held talks with the JAC. Chief Secretary P K Mohanty and AP Energy Department officials also took participated.
The JAC sought a firm assurance that AP would be kept "united" but the state government pleaded helplessness.
Curfew in Vizianagaram town was lifted for an hour this morning after normalcy began to return in the violence-hit area even as strict vigil was being maintained during the relaxation period.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (Vizag) P Umapathi told PTI that the curfew was relaxed from 7-8 AM to facilitate people to purchase essential commodities like milk and petrol.
He said the situation is peaceful and now under control as there has been no fresh violence since yesterday.