The administration remained paralysed in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh Wednesday as the indefinite strike by over 400,000 government employees continued for the second day.
Delivery of civic services was hit in 10 districts of Telangana as employees stayed away from work to demand formation of separate Telangana state.
The "people’s strike" called by Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) did not have much impact in Hyderabad, but was total in districts like Warangal, Karimnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Nizamabad and Adilabad.
Work in the state secretariat was not affected as about 85 percent of the employees attended their duties but the leaders of Telangana movement claimed that the employees from the region constitute only 15 percent of the total workforce. The impact was also partial in offices of other departments in the state capital.
The strike led to tension in some offices in Hyderabad as a section of employees refused to join the strike. In the office of Hyderabad district collector, the supporters of the strike had heated arguments with those who refused to join them.
In the office of the district collector in Khammam, striking employees ransacked the office of joint collector as he was attending work.
Telangana employees’ JAC president Swamy Goud claimed that the strike was total. "Employees at all levels are participating in the strike and we will continue this till public representatives of all political parties also join the movement," he said.
JAC leaders claim that the strike by employees has caused a Rs.2,000-crore loss to the government in two days as those working in revenue collection departments are also staying away from duties.
Coal production in the government-owned Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) also remained paralysed for the second day. The company is suffering a loss of about Rs.25 crore daily as the production of 120,000 tonnes of coal in mines spread over four districts in Telangana has come to a halt.
Officials say that if the strike continues in Singareni, it could lead to a power crisis as the state depends on the company for 35 percent of its thermal power generation.
Cinema theatres also joined the "people’s strike" by downing their shutters across the region Wednesday. According to the Telangana Film Chamber, 450 theatres will remain closed for two days in support of the strike.
Hundreds of trucks were caught in long traffic snarls on the Andhra-Maharashtra border as transport employees at inter-state check post at Bhoraj in Adilabad district also joined the strike.
The strike may further intensify as teachers of all government and private schools and colleges plan to join the protest from Friday, while employees of state-owned Road Transport Corporation (RTC) would be doing so from next Monday (Sep 19).
Schools and colleges in some districts have already closed as both the students and teachers are participating in the movement.
They, along with employees, lawyers, doctors and activists of some political groups, are taking out rallies, staging road blockades and forming human chains.
The JAC has dared the government to take action against the striking employees. It claimed that the government’s threat to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) and ‘no work no pay’ rule has failed to deter the employees.
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy reviewed the situation with a cabinet sub-committee constituted earlier to hold talks with JAC leaders.
Ministers and one of the members of the sub-committee, D. Nagender, appealed to the employees to call off the strike, saying it was affecting the common man.
"Telangana issue is before the centre and it is likely to take a decision soon. Everybody should have patience and should not resort to any action which causes inconvenience to the general public," Nagender said. (IANS)