J’khand power strike ends as HC steps in

For nearly 48 hours, the state government watched helplessly as Jharkhand endured a blackout. Then the High Court stepped in and, after 10 minutes, all was well.

The blackout began Wednesday after the 75,000-odd employees of the Jharkhand State Electricity Board (JSEB) went on strike to protest the board's MoUs with Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation and Tata Power for power distribution in Ranchi and Jamshedpur, a move the JSEB Officers Engineers Employees Coordination Committee believes is a step towards privatisation.

The next day, a bench of Chief Justice Prakash Tatia and Justice Jaya Roy admitted a PIL by lawyer Rajeev Kumar. "This morning, the court ordered that power should be restored in 10 minutes and it was done," said Kumar, who is also the amicus curae in the case.

Till the court stepped in, the government was watching helplessly as the JSEB employees defied it although it had invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act.

"The delay was caused because we were working to get help from parties like Usha Martin and the PowerGrid Corporation of India, to restore power without help from the employees. By the time the court order came, we had restored 80 per cent power," said P K Srivastava, Director of JSEB's PR Department.

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