With increase in the number of power sub-stations and length of transmission lines, senior officials of Punjab State Transmission Corporation Limited (TRANSCO), which has already been facing acute staff shortage, has questioned the alleged unauthorised diversion of around 140 assistant line men (ALMs) and sub-station attendants (SSAs) of TRANSCO and POWERCOM to private contractors hired for replacing low-capacity cables and transformers across Punjab over the past few years.
They said they were reeling under huge work burden and doing overtime without any incentives. Sources in TRANSCO said these ALMs and SSAs are required to maintain the lines and sub-stations. There are around 170 sub-stations in Punjab, including 90 of 220 KV, five of 400 KV (some of them are coming up) and remaining of 132 KV in five circles in the state.
With the staff crunch, the maintenance and cleaning of the equipment which the department is supposed to do twice in year (March-April and October-November) is also being affected adversely, resulting in increasing number of breakdowns.
“At a time we are already facing severe staff crunch and managing work at less than 50 per cent of the sanctioned workforce, this unauthorised diversion of this staff must be rolled back,” said one of the chief engineers of a circle.
In April 16, 2010, the Punjab State Electricity Board was split into two companies, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (POWERCOM) and Punjab State Transmission Corporation Limited (TRANSCO).
For TRANSCO, there were a total of 2,700 staff members working in 2010 against the sanctioned 4,000-odd posts. This has come down to 1,950 posts now. During the same period, the length of transmission lines has increased from 7,400 km to 12,000 km while the number of sub-stations has gone up to 170 from 128.
For the past three-and-a-half years, there has been no new recruitment in the company even as vacant posts are piling up every year because of retirement of staff members.
“Moreover, these ALMs and SSAs have been getting their salaries from POWERCOM and TRANSCO and working with the outsourced contractors. This needs to be checked,” said another senior officer.
When contacted, Punjab’s Power Minister Rana Gurjit Singh said he had no knowledge of the matter.
“But if anything of this sort is happening, we will get it inquired into,” he said. About the new recruitment, the minister said there was no such proposal at the moment.