Purulia, Oct. 9: The state government today intervened to “more or less resolve” the dispute over jobs that has disrupted work at a thermal power project of the Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) in Purulia.
The administration held a meeting with DVC officials and landlosers who have stalled pipe-laying work for three months and organised regular demonstrations in front of the gate of the under-construction 2,520MW plant.
The landlosers, organised under the Jomi Suraksha Committee and the Land Losers’ Association, have been demanding permanent jobs at the plant and compensation at current market rates.
The Land Losers’ Association agreed to lift the agitation it had been organising in front of the plant gate after they were “assured” of casual jobs. The Jomi Suraksha Committee, which has stalled water pipeline laying, said it would not withdraw the agitation unless a written assurance on causal jobs was given.
Administrative sources said DVC chairman R.N. Sen met Mamata Banerjee on October 3 and sought her intervention to break the stalemate. The sources said the chief minister spoke to Purulia district magistrate Tanmoy Chakraborty. A day later, Chakraborty held an administrative meeting to take stock of the problems.
Additional district magistrate (general) Sabujbaran Sarkar, who chaired today’s meeting, said the agitation by the landlosers’ association had been “more or less resolved”.
A district official said: “The Jomi Suraksha Committee members are not ready to allow work on the 10.5km water pipeline unless they receive a written agreement assuring casual jobs at the power project, training of casual unskilled workers and compensation at current market rates. The committee brought to the meeting a lawyer who would examine if the compensation demand would stand legal scrutiny.”
Nikhil Mondal, the vice-president of the Jomi Suraksha Committee, said the DVC officials told the landlosers that they could “only give casual jobs”.
Terming the meeting “positive”, ADM Sarkar said: “We are hopeful of a complete solution. The agitators will be given a written resolution of the proceedings of today’s meeting.”
“The DVC officials said it would be possible to give only casual and unskilled jobs. Attempts will be made to provide training to some of them. But the thrust will be on outsourcing unskilled and semi-skilled workers through contractors. Landlosers will be given preference,” Sarkar said.
Debjit Banerjee, the secretary of the Land Losers’ Association, said they would lift the agitation as the DVC had “agreed for the moment to give unskilled casual jobs”.
The DVC chief engineer of the project, Debashis Mitra, said: “After today’s meeting, several issues have been solved. We are hopeful of a total solution.”
Asked when work on the water corridor would resume, he said: “We are in consultation with the administration. We hope the agitators will withdraw their protest after they receive a copy of the resolution.”