Hundreds of contract labourers today locked the main gate of Essar Steel project in Paradip, affecting the company’s construction work.
The agitating labourers have pressed for the fulfillment of their long-standing demands which inter alia includes payment of higher wages as well as proper maintenance of records of gratuity and employees provident fund (EPF) amount.
The situation at the plant site has been worsened by the alleged illegal arrest of a contract worker by police.
The arrested contract worker, who is a member of ‘Essar Steel Displaced and Land Losers Sangh’, was demanding permanent job and fulfillment of various demands of the contract workers.
As a mark of protest against his arrest, hundreds of aggrieved contract workers staged a dharana in front of the plant’s main gate.
Essar Steel Displaced and Land Losers Sangh alleged that the workers were paid less wages and their Gratuity and EPF amount has not been deposited with the relevant authorities by the project management.
Moreover, there are no supply of safety gears like shoes and helmets to the labourers or provision of general insurance and drinking water for them, the Sangh complained.
President of Sangh Bimal Pattnaik claimed there is a provision to give a daily wage Rs 275 to wielder, Rs 260 to a fitter, Rs 220 to a grinder, Rs 240 to a rigger, Rs 230 to gas cutter, Rs 180 to a khalasi and Rs 170 to helper but Essar has paid 40 per cent less than the prescribed rate. No compensation has been given yet to displaced families as per the Rehabilitation and Resettlement policy of the state government of 2006, he alleged.
“Negotiations are going on to sort out various issues through discussions with the leaders of the Sangh. Construction work has been affected due to labour unrest. Police forces have been deployed at the Essar Steel plant site to avert any law and order problem”, said a company official.
Meanwhile, the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) conducted public hearing for the proposed second phase 60 MW thermal power plant of Essar Power Orissa Ltd at Nuagarh School on Thursday. The public hearing was opposed by the affected villages on the grounds of non-fulfillment of demands of displaced families.
The villagers of Nuagarh, Balidiha, Singitali, Bhutamundai, Bijaychandrapur and Udaybhat strongly protested as a result of which pubic hearing had to be stopped at the half-way stage.
Regional Officer, SPCB A K Chatterjee and assistant environmentalist B B Dash were present at the meeting chaired by the additional district magistrate Paradip, Saroj Kant Choudhury.