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Clamour for jobs hits project

Burdwan, Feb. 24: Work at one of the largest construction projects in Bengal has hit a speed-breaker since Thursday because a group of youths sent by a Trinamul minister’s aide are demanding jobs.

The Shrachi group, the Calcutta-based developer, is building a residential township called Renaissance on the outskirts of Burdwan. The project, implemented in association with the Burdwan Development Authority (BDA), is coming up on 255 acres and is expected to entail an investment of around Rs 1,000 crore.

The Calcutta-based promoters declined comment and at least one investor said there was no problem. An official associated with executing a contract said there was a stalemate on Thursday and work was suspended as a precautionary step but efforts were on to resolve the issue at the earliest.

Multiple accounts suggest politicians, unable to deliver promises made to youths whose patience was wearing thin, are sending them to investors who are finding themselves at the receiving end of the youths’ frustration.

Shrachi had hired as security guards 54 youths from land-loser families, based on a list drawn up by Rabiranjan Chatterjee, the science and technology minister in the Mamata Banerjee cabinet and the local MLA. Chatterjee also chairs the BDA.

However, on Thursday, not more than 10 youths, who do not belong to the locality but are known Trinamul supporters, arrived at the project office around 11am and raised slogans demanding jobs.

“The guards stopped them and asked them to disperse. But they claimed that Khokon Das, a Trinamul councillor of the Burdwan municipality, sent them. We told them that we have already given jobs according to the list given to us by the BDA chairman but they told us that the list was flawed. The agitators continued shouting slogans and threatened that if work continued, they would come again and stop it,” said an official associated with the project.

“We had to stop work since Thursday following an agitation by some people demanding jobs in our project and they threatened to intensify their movement,” said Surajit Malakar, the marketing in-charge of the Renaissance project.

Das, considered close to minister Chatterjee, said he had sent the unemployed youths to the project site. “It is the duty of the developers to engage the maximum number of local unemployed youths in the project as it is coming up in the locality but the company refused. I have informed the BDA chairman and minister Rabiranjan Chatterjee,” Das said.

Minister Chatterjee said he instructed Das to ascertain how many people could be engaged in the project as security guards. “We have already provided jobs as security guards to many people. Some more people had gone to the site for jobs on Thursday. I have asked Khokon to look into the matter but have no information that work has been stalled,” Chatterjee said.

“I got the information from our sources about the ongoing incident at the Renaissance project and sent an officer to collect information. We are keeping a watch on the law and order situation,” said S.M.H. Meerza, the Burdwan SP.


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