Closure of thermal plants

Workers accuse govt of betrayal

BATHINDA: On the call of the Thermal Contract Workers Coordination Committee, Punjab, around 500 contractual employees working at the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, Bathinda, and Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant, Lehra Mohabbat, today started their protest against the state government outside the District Administrative Complex here.

Workers accuse govt of betrayal

A child holds a placard with a slogan against the state government during a protest by employees of Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant

Nikhila Pant Dhawan

Tribune news Service

Bathinda, January 1

On the call of the Thermal Contract Workers Coordination Committee, Punjab, around 500 contractual employees working at the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, Bathinda, and Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant, Lehra Mohabbat, today started their protest against the state government outside the District Administrative Complex here.

As per the orders of the state government, all four units of the Bathinda thermal plant and two units of the Ropar thermal plant were shut down from today.

The contractual employees said since the plants had been shut, they didn’t have any work till the time they were not “adjusted as per the government’s promise”.

The protesters began assembling outside the gate of the thermal plant this morning. Raising slogans against the state government for rendering them unemployed, the protesters burnt an effigy of the government before sitting on an indefinite protest outside the complex.

Calling the Congress government “government of liars”, the protesters questioned the credibility of leaders who “lied while campaigning for the Assembly elections”.

“They had avowed to make the thermal plant functional again after the SAD-BJP government shut them down for six months during winter, calling the state power surplus. They haven’t kept their promise,” said committee convener Rajinder Singh Dhillon.

General secretary of the union of the contractual workers, Vijay Kumar added that the state government’s promise that it would adjust the staff of these thermal plants at other plants was a “mere eyewash to silence the protesters”.

“A majority of contractual workers at the GNDTP are the sole breadwinners of their families and now that they have been rendered unemployed, their families will face a future of penury,” Singh said.

The protesters argued that the SAD-BJP government had, towards the tail end of its tenure, given its nod to the regularisation of employees working on contractual basis for a long time.

They added that even the Congress had promised to provide a government job to at least one member of each family in the state.

“Instead of keeping its promise of giving jobs or implementing the decision taken by the previous government, the Congress government has adopted a policy of ruthlessly laying off employees. The Congress is closing down thermal plants, primary schools, anganwari centres, sewa kendras and other government offices to fill its coffers, but in the process it is rendering thousands of workers unemployed,” they added.

They threatened to continue their protest till the time the government didn’t relent and recall its decision to shut down the thermal plants, which had been modernised at a cost of Rs 750 crore.

Democratic rights body to stage protest

The Democratic Human Rights Organisation today announced that it would also stage a protest against the government’s decision to shut down the GNDTP and two units of the Ropar thermal plant.

Calling the step as “anti-employees” and “anti-people”, members of the organisation announced that they would first convene a meeting at Teachers’ Home and then take out a protest march through the markets of the city.

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