Water crisis deepens in Jammu as PHE workers’ strike continues, Govt unmoved

PHE workers on strike staging protest in Jammu on Monday. —Excelsior/Rakesh
PHE workers on strike staging protest in Jammu on Monday. —Excelsior/Rakesh

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, June 27: The water crisis in all the 10 districts of Jammu region has turned grim with the ongoing strike of the PHE daily wage workers for the last six consecutive days while the J&K UT Administration has remained unmoved.
Not only in Jammu City, the people in Kathua, Samba, Udhampur, Rajouri, Reasi, Doda and other major towns and rural areas of the region are suffering badly due to suspension of water supply in many areas. Reports from various areas revealed that at many water stations, the water reservoirs have gone dry while the daily wage/contractual staff being on strike, was reluctant to releasing water supply.

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During these hot summer days when the mercury level has reached up to 42-43 degree Celsius in Jammu area, the general public has been badly suffering due to non-availability of essential supply and the UT Administration has gone to deep slumber. Even the senior officers of the Jal Shakti/PHE department have remained unmoved over the crisis. Despite public protests at many places across the region, the authorities at the helm of affairs have apparently gone to hibernation.
It is pertinent to mention here that general public is suffering baldy with the ongoing strike of PHE/ Jal Shakti department workers since June 22 in the region. The reports of protests and suspension of water supplies are hitting the headlines of the newspapers and also being highlighted in social media for the last about one week. But, unfortunately, the authorities concerned have yet to take cognizance of the issue.
The 48-hour strike declared by PHE workers on June 22, is being extended every day and today it entered 6th consecutive day. Many Jammu city and rural areas besides towns and villages in other districts are facing acute water shortage. Over 70% of the systems in the PHE department is being run by the daily wagers/ temporary workers while 30 % of the permanent staff has failed to cover such a vast area and deliver services to the public.
Meanwhile, a large number of PHE/Jal Shakti department daily wage workers today assembled at BC Road office complex of the Chief Engineer and other locations in Jammu besides other district headquarters and held protest demonstrations. Many senior members of the PHE Employees United Front were leading the protest at BC Road office. They were shouting slogans in support of their long pending demands and also against the UT administration for its indifferent and rigid attitude.
A large number of senior leaders of the United Front addressed the gathering at BC Road office of PHE and criticized the Government for not addressing the pending issues of the employees including daily rated/CP workers.
They are demanding regularisation of the daily rated workers, enhancement of Minimum Wages as per UT norms in J&K, enhancement of Medical Allowance of the employees and workers, release of pending wages of 70 months of PHE workers.
They condemned the rigid and anti-employee attitude of some senior Government officers and even the BJP leaders who only befooled them and done nothing for getting their long pending issues resolved. They alleged that even LG Manoj Sinha had assured them to settle their case within two months when they met him along with BJP president, Ravinder Raina and MP Jugal Kishore one and half years ago. But despite that nothing happened. The BJP leaders have also stopped listening to their problem.
They said their strike will continue till their issue is resolved. In case there is no response from the UT Administration, strike can be further extended. The United Front extended strike for one more day as there was no response from the Government. They today also resolved to hold grand rally in Jammu on June 29.
Meanwhile, many Jammu localities are facing drinking water crisis. The water supply has been hit in many areas like Janipur, Paloura, Roop Nagar, Muthi, Ban Talab, Barnai, Rehari, Bakshi Nagar, Narwal, Adrash Vihar, Dilli, several old city localities besides Sidhra, Narwal and Bathindi. The public alleged that Jal Shakti department has failed to provide water supply even through tankers. They also condemned the JMC authorities led by Mayor CM Gupta as PHE is now controlled by JMC in Jammu city.