The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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State firm grapples with plenty

Ranchi, Oct. 28: Too much of a good thing is what ails Jharkhand State Mineral Development Corporation -– overabundance of manpower, in this instance.

The corporation appears to be trying to turn the curse of 750 clerks, peons and other lower division staff for its four officers into a blessing by pressing them into service at five moribund mines.

This was necessary to keep the corporation afloat, chairman Deepak Prakash said, especially because the government had ruled out a single retrenchment after the takeover of the former Bihar State Mineral Development Corporation a year ago.

The takeover package had included the four officers and the army of 350 clerks, 375 peons and 25 other lower division staff.

As a result, a fleet of 56 drivers was attached to the four official cars, working “out to an average of 14 drivers per car”, a corporation official said.

And the army of 750 was split into around 190 assistants per officer. The result was that each clerk had a peon to himself with more to spare.

The corporation is thus the country’s only public sector unit to have such a “surplus” of manpower when most companies are doing away with peons and general labour.

“The same situation exists even today, with the present staff strength continuing to be pegged at four officers, 750 clerks, peons and other menial staff and no technical officers on the corporation’s rolls. The result is that most of the workforce continue to be paid their wages for sitting idle,” an official said.

Worse still, there are no trained personnel, particularly technical officers, to tackle the corporation’s predominantly technical work, Prakash said.

But this may not last long if Prakash has his way. “To keep the corporation afloat and involve all the surplus workforce in some gainful job, we have been taking a hard look at the markets and the areas in which the corporation could possibly involve itself,” he said.

As a first step, the production at the coalmine at Sikni in Latehar district has been beefed up to breakeven point from the near “zero” it was at the time of takeover, Prakash said.

Four other mines in a “closed-down condition” at Semra in Palamau, Beanti in Hazaribagh, mica mines in Giridih and a kyanite mine in Singhbhum have been restarted.

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