Shongtong Karcham hydel Project Kinnaur

A letter to CM Virbhadra about misery of Shongtong -Karcham laborers fighting for their wages & rights

Dear Virbhadra Singh Ji

I do not know, whether you are aware of the inhumane exploitation of the workers constructing the Shongtong -Karcham 450 MW hydel Project in Kinnaur. Construction work in this project is going on since Sept, 2014 and the principal contractor is the Patel Engineering Company.

Apart from this company there are 21 other recorded Sub-contractors. There are several fictitious Sub-contractors also. It will shock any civilized person, that large sections of the workers are not paid wages for months together and even as today 57 workers have not been paid wages for the last three months and some amongst them for even a longer duration. Minimum wages as declared by the govt are not being paid to the workers.

There are 470 workers who are not being given the social security benefits as recorded by the provident fund Act., Majority of the workers have not been provided night stay (Workers Camp) etc. as envisaged under the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act.1970.

Any worker who demands wages for the work done by him is thrashed by the hoodlums of the contractors and those who tend to resist are thrown outside the project area.

What is even more shocking the deputy commissioner Kinnaur is shamelessly justifying the inhumane action of the sub-contractors and since the workers have built collective resistance to get justice, the Deputy commissioner has promulgated an order of section 144Cr.P.C over an area of 15Km in the project area and claims that it has been done on the direction of the highest political authority.

Now who is this highest political authority? Is it Mr. Modi or have directions been issued to clamp section 144 Cr.P.C from your office? I can not say. All I can say, I was in Kinnaur in support of the workers cause. They are attempting to fight back the ruthless exploitation of the contractors.

They have coined this slogan “Mang do ya goli do – dono hi manzoor hai.” The essence of this slogan reflects the mood of the workers. They are prepared to make the highest sacrifice. It will be sad for the Deputy Commissioner to learn even if the order of 144 Cr.P.C is promulgated in whole of Kinnaur the worker is not going to surrender before the exploitation of the joint venture of the civil administration and ruthless contractors. I can assure this joint venture even if martial law is declared this heroic fight would continue.

In the end I would like to know from you and Prem Kumar Dhumal who have justified the handsome hike in the salary and pension of the ministers, MLA’s and Ex MLA’s what explanation would your company give for the failure to take cognizance of the exploitation of the Shongtong Karcham workers who have not been paid their earned wages which are only 1/20th that of a cabinet minister minus the TA-DA etc.

Are not 40 days of strike sufficient to take cognizance of the violation of the labour laws by the contractors? I know there are miles to go before they are implemented, for the meantime it would be kind enough of you, if your govt took cognizance of the violations, I would like to help you, help the administration, help the labour Deptt and help the other organs of the state so that they are able to take cognizance of these serious violation of statutory requirements.

I choose to join the protest on 27th April 2016 being organized before the Secretariat by the CITU so that it creates an environment for the insensitive administration and labour deptt. to take cognizance of the pain of the workers.

Letter from Rakesh Singha

File Photo: Himachal Watcher

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