Engineers in Jammu and Kashmir have announced a protest over better pay and perks.
Jammu and Kashmir faces an imminent power shutdown if demands of nearly 2,000 engineers of the power department are not accepted by the government. Hundreds of Power Development Department engineers today went on a mass leave and held sit-in protest in Srinagar and Jammu. They are demanding regularisation and implementation of Assured Carrier Progression or ACR in their services.
"When we are promoted, we are elevated but without due pay and grade benefits. Recently one of our chief engineers retired. He got the pension of just Rs 30,000 because he was never promoted on substantive basis as per Assured Carrier Progression like other engineering departments of the government," said Hidayatullah Peer, president of the engineers union.
The problem goes right to top. Muzaffar Ahmad Mattoo, who is now chief engineer of power department in Kashmir for the last seven years, still draws the salary of an executive engineer - a position he held 20 years ago.
He said even his senior colleagues who work as chief engineers are still working at the grade of an executive engineer.
"I'm holding the position of chief engineer but I'm regularised only as executive engineer," said Mr Mattoo.
There are about 2,000 engineers in the power department who have been affected by non- implementation of ACR. The engineers say they will go ahead with power shut down next month if the government fails to address their demands. The government and the top engineers however hope that an amicable solution will be found so that people are not put to any inconvenience.
"We are conscious of the fact that power strike is not a solution. We are talking to authorities. Let's hope something good will come out," said Mr Mattoo.
The government admits the demands are justified and are trying to address the issue at earliest. "The department has recommended the case to Finance Ministry. It's the Finance which has to approve this. Finance Department has been requested for an early decision in the matter," said Dheeraj Gupta, Commissioner Secretary of the Power Department.