Although hundreds of daily-wagers and need-based employees of J&K’s Power Development Department put their lives at risk to ensure uninterrupted power supply to our homes, the policymakers have failed to evolve a rehabilitation policy for the families of those who die or get disabled in the line of duty.
In crisis situations when heavy snowfall forces a Kashmir-wide electricity outage, it’s the casual workers of the power department who are at the forefront of restoration in the most difficult circumstances.
During their line of duty, many of them have lost their lives or suffered devastating disabilities during accidents of electrocution on duty. But they say, the power department disowns them in such circumstances and rarely pays any compensation.
According to the reports published in a local daily, since 2005 around 11500 daily wagers were engaged from time to time, among them at least 150 have died and more than 1000 seriously injured with most having their limbs amputated in accidents. Despite their dangerous work, they get the wages regularly but once or twice in a year. The regularisation for many of the daily wagers who work tirelessly has remained a distant dream even after a decade and there are hundreds who are yet to be regularised.
In case of an untoward incident with these men, neither their family will receive any compensation from the government nor will they get a job under SRO as no government in the state has framed any policy to compensate such victims’ families, despite the protracted struggle of these labourers for decades.
Linemen, whether permanent or daily wagers are the backbone of PDD department who do dangerous manual jobs like repairing damaged wires, transformers and go to the corners of the residential areas, are always in the line of fire.
The department even lacks in terms to provide the safety equipment to their men. Despite directions from the Centre, the PDD doesn’t provide safety equipment like helmets, ropes and electric-proof gloves to these workers, who are always at risk while performing their duty.
PDD department is an important part of our daily life, so do are its men who keep the department functional but the question is that our necessity and comfort should not be at the cost of the lives of these poor labourers. As a part of the society, we should also play a role in one way or other to help these laborers to meet their genuine demands.