With the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd (UHBVNL), Panchkula, grappling with an acute staff shortage chances of complaints about erratic electricity supply filed by the district’s residents being redressed promptly appear remote, at least for now. Timely fault repair and preventive maintenance has emerged as the key area of concern because of the manpower crisis with peripheral villages being the worst affected.
The UHBVNL has five sanctioned positions for junior engineers (JE1) of which two have remained vacant and only ten of the 19 posts of field junior engineers have been filled. Though 23 posts of assistant foremen have been sanctioned only 17 have been appointed. Similarly, 22 of the 80 positions for linemen have yet to be filled and only 104 permanent assistant linemen have been hired though there are 194 sanctioned posts.
There are nearly 1.5-lakh consumers of different categories in Panchkula district, which is divided into six subdivisions –Panchkula city, Panchkula suburban, Kalka, Barwala, Pinjore and Raipurani.
Jai Bhagwan Sharma, general secretary of the Panchkula unit of the Haryana State Electricity Board Workers Union, said due to the staff shortage maintenance was getting little attention, leading to frequent power breakdowns and erratic supply during the peak of summer. “We’re also facing the problem of an ageing workforce at the field level for proper maintenance of power lines. There’s no option but to fill all vacant posts as a large number of field staff will be retiring over the next five years,” he said.
He added the union had taken up the issue with the higher authorities for the past many years but in vain.
Since 1979 the district has seen significant growth in electricity load and the number of connections, which have risen exponentially. Though residents have complained about inordinate delays in repairing faults to the power utility the latter has done nothing much about it.
Calling it a chronic problem, Rakesh Aggarwal, president of the Sector 12 Residents Welfare Association, said UHBVN had failed to provide effective services to residents of Panchkula district that accounted for the maximum revenues as compared to other places in Haryana. “Area residents are made to suffer as the electricity staff takes a long time in repairing faults,” he added.
Admitting there was a manpower problem, DS Dhanda, executive engineer at UHBVN, Panchkula, said: “We send monthly reports on staff strength to the higher authorities. To overcome the staff shortage we hire temporary employees on contract.”