Sunday, May 4, 2008

‘Hiring Oriya labourers was not a show of superiority complex’

Engagement of Orissa labourers at NTPC irks locals
KOKRAJHAR, May 3: The engagement of migrant labourers from Orissa at the construction site of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) plant at Salakati drew sharp reactions among the local labourers. It may be noted here that as many as 65 labourers from Orissa have been engaged in the work at the existing Bongaigaon Thermal Power Station (BTPS) at Salakati by the IB Trading Company Private Limited — a company from outside the State — whereas local youths are being denied such opportunities.
Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) Executive Member from Salakati constituency, Derhasat Basumatary has vehemently condemned the BTPS officials for their discriminatory attitude and for engaging migrant labourers from Orissa by violating the rules laid down for the benefit of the local people. He said neither local people nor the labour department or labour union were informed about labourer engagement, and demanded that 80 per cent labourers should be from the locality.Basumatary also fired a salvo at the officials of the IB Trading Company Private Limited for engaging labourers from Orissa and ignoring local labourers. He also said the matter would be taken seriously, which has hurt the sentiments of local people. The people from Orissa might not even return to their State and may stay back and settle down in Asom even after the contract period is over, he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Power Pradyut Bordoloi also expressed displeasure over the engagement of labourers from Orissa and Bihar and said that all labourers should have been employed from the locality.
In an interview to The Sentinel, the in-charge of the labour unit, Ramasary Biswakarma, who is also from Orissa, said that as many as 65 labourers from Orissa have been brought by the IB Trading Company Pvt Ltd and are being engaged in the work. He said their contract is for six months only.
Replying to a question, Biswakarma said that cases of stealing of iron rods and other materials from the scrapping site was true but they do not know who stole them because they work only in the daytime.
Speaking to mediapersons, a labourer, Murul Hoque, admitted that thieves are on the prowl near the project sites and iron rods and other assets of the BTPS are being taken away. He, however, said that he did not know about the alleged involvement of officials with antisocial elements.Meanwhile, villagers of Dogorpara on condition of anonymity said that an influential executive engineer of the BTPS (name kept hidden) is involved in a nexus with thieves as stealing of iron rods and other assets was continuing even in broad daylight and that too in his presence.
On the other hand, two officials of the IB Trading Company Pvt Ltd allegedly misbehaved with mediapersons at the BTPS Guest House and had altercation with them on the reported labourer issue. The officials, however, denied the fact that the engagement of labourers was a show of superiority complex and that they think that local people are not fit for the work.
However, local people have said that the officials who spoke in Bengali with one another, used to speak in English with the local people so that they would not understand what was going on.

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