NHPC workers after a meeting with officials of the power company and the district administration in Gangtok on FridayGangtok, Sept. 3: The NHPC has been given three months by the Sikkim government to decide on the workers’ demand of re-designating their grades according to their education qualification.
Fifty-three persons, whose families had given land for the NHPC’s 510MW project at Balutar, 42km from here, had been recruited by the power company in 2004 in the W-0 grade under the rehabilitation and relief plan.
On August 31, the workers resorted to an indefinite strike alleging that they have been given the lowest grade irrespective of their educational qualifications.
The agitation was withdrawn after the East district administration intervened and fixed a meeting between the NHPC and the workers for September 3.
Today, after a 90-minute meeting with the power company, workers and representatives from the labour wing of the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front, East district collector D. Anandan said: “The NHPC Teesta Stage V management has sought three months to place the workers’ demands before their higher authorities. The management has not given any commitment but we have explicitly told them not to dilly-dally. We have told them to come to a concrete decision within three months.”
The NHPC was represented by its executive director D. Parija and chief engineer in-charge of the project D. Chattopadhya.
The power officials claimed that under the plan agreed upon by the NHPC and the Sikkim government in 2001, those who gave their land for the project were supposed to be directly appointed under W-0 grade with provisions for promotion according to their qualifications later.
Denying the claim, Anandan said: “The people recruited under the plan should have been directly appointed to suitable posts as per qualifications and others should be given training for technical posts. This was not done by the NHPC.”
Sangram S. Basnett, a mechanical engineer who represents the workers, said: “Initially, the NHPC officials were not showing much interest but when the district administration raised the issue strongly, they asked for three months. The pressure is on the NHPC to do something. If they don’t, we will definitely fight for our rights.”