GANGTOK, October 13: The private sector including pharma and hydro power developers today came under an unprecedented wrath of Chief Minister Pawan Chamling who expressed his strongest displeasure against these entities alleging them of violating the agreements signed with State Government in terms of local employment warning zero tolerance against such abominations.
“I today feel sad that agreements that Stage Government had signed up with the companies and power developers for hundred percent local employment and awarding of contract and supplies works to locals have not been met and I express my strong displeasure in this meeting,” said the Chief Minister during Investors Meet 2009 held at the Chintan Bhavan here today.
While Mr. Chamling had been regularly directing the private investors and companies to employ local people, the recent labour related problems in some companies here led to the Chief Minister to come out with guns blazing against the private sector operating in Sikkim.
Stressing that the private sector are legally bound to follow the provisions mentioned in the agreements signed with the State Government, the Chief Minister warned that the violations of such agreements will not be tolerated or accepted at any cost. The companies should come out of their narrow interests and serve the Sikkimese people and Sikkim State, he said.
Referring to the recent labour unrest in a couple of companies, Mr. Chamling said that the State Government does not intend to see a repeat of such incidents and specially the government will not appreciate for the companies to be the cause of disruption of peace and tranquility in Sikkim.
Reminding the decisions take in last year’s investors meet, the Chief Minister said that he had called upon the investors to employ locals in all posts and extend full cooperation in the interests of people of Sikkim in line with the policies of the State Government. This is equally applicable to hotels, tour operators and small scale industries here.
“Today I feel that sad that this has not happened with most of the projects and wages are also not uniform which is based on the fancy of the management, said Mr. Chamling. We are fully behind our workers and our minimum wages are notified and this must be followed, he said.
The companies must employ hundred percent locals barring executive posts and exceptional cases which calls for highly skilled expertise and the companies must train our local youth and absorb them skilled jobs, directed Mr. Chamling. He told the private sector to recruit local manpower from the list of unemployed educated youth at the employment cell of the Department of Personnel. The construction jobs which do not require huge amounts should be given to the local contractors, he said.
The Chief Minister also rationalized behind the local employment whip where he said that the Sikkimese youth are now ready to tap into the employment opportunities as thousands of Sikkimese youth have received training in wide ranging skills under the capacity development programme of the State Government. We feel that people are now ready, he said. He also informed that the Centre has sanctioned a National Institute of Technology for Sikkim. You must also train our youth and absorb them, he told the investors adding that a mechanism is being worked out for gradual replacement of non-locals employees with the local manpower.
The Chief Minister was also armed with cases of some companies violating the interests of the Sikkimese people and State government. The ratio of local employment at Singtam site of LANCO power project is highly tilted against local interests with only 15 percent local employees which is a gross violation of the mutual agreement we had signed, he said.
“We are not prepared to accept this at any cost and this anomaly should be immediately corrected”.
Mr. Chamling then turned on CIPLA factory at Kumrek which he said had trained 140 local youths and then replaced them with a new batch of trainees. What is the logic behind this irrationality, he questioned directing the company to immediately absorb the earlier trainees and give them appropriate salaries.
Regarding land acquisitions, the Chief Minister told the investors to acquire land directly through the concerned land owner or State government and not through middlemen which he said will encourage land brokers and land sharks.
The Chief Minister gave all the companies, hoteliers and tour operators one month’s time to submit details of local employment, names and details of contractors or firms hired land acquired and works done for local area development. These details will enable us to review our commitment made to the people of Sikkim, he said.
Stating that the private sector in Sikkim are enjoying tax concessions and subsides due to Northeast industrial policy, Mr. Chamling said that the companies should be equally committed to develop Sikkim and to the interests of the Sikkimese people.
Earlier, chief secretary TT Dorji in his key note address reflected that of late some of the companies in Sikkim have not been fulfilling the assurances and commitments made with the State government. He directed departments like power, tourism and industries to hold quarterly meeting with the companies in order to ensure close cooperation and to keep abreast of employment, environmental safeguards and contract works statistics.
State commerce & industries secretary BP Pradhan placed the welcome address. The meet was also attended by cabinet ministers, legislatures, departmental heads and members from Sikkim Chamber of Commerce