Electricity department employees of Seemandhra region of Andhra Pradesh Thursday began a 72-hour strike to protest the proposed bifurcation of the state, thus affecting electricity generation and supply.
About 30,000 employees in 13 districts of Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra) launched the strike from midnight. Another 20,000 contractual workers are also participating in the strike.
The strike is likely to hit generation of 7,196 MW of electricity and may even lead to collapse of the southern grid, which connects four southern states - Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.
The strike already started having its impact Thursday in different parts of the state. The authorities resorted to three-hour power cuts in parts of Hyderabad.
Hours after the chief minister's office claimed Wednesday night that the employees agreed to postpone the strike till Sep 16, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Seemandhra electricity employees announced they were going on a 72-hour token strike.
The JAC leaders threatened to go on an indefinite strike if the centre goes ahead with the process of formation of Telangana state.
They demanded the Congress Working Committee to withdraw its July 30 decision to carve out Telangana.
The electricity employees have exempted emergency services like water supply, hospitals and railways from the strike.
Following talks between Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and JAC leaders in Hyderabad Wednesday night, a statement from the chief minister said the employees agreed to defer their strike at his request.
Srinivasa Rao, a JAC leader, said they were not concerned with the statement from the chief minister's office.
As the bulk of thermal and hydel power is generated in Seemandhra, the strike is likely to have its impact across the state. Farmers in Telangana may be the worst hit as they depend on pump sets for irrigation.
The strike by the electricity employees will intensify ongoing protests in Seemandhra. More than six lakh government employees and teachers are on strike since Aug 13.