Commuters stranded for hours on national highway as contractual staff block Ladhowal toll : The Tribune India

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Commuters stranded for hours on national highway as contractual staff block Ladhowal toll

Protesting employees of govt departments are seeking regular jobs

Commuters stranded for hours on national highway as contractual staff block Ladhowal toll

Commuters stuck in a traffic jam on the NH-44 stretch between Ludhiana and Ladhowal toll plaza on Saturday. HIMANSHU MAHAJAN



Tribune News Service

Harshraj Singh

Ludhiana, December 9

Hundreds of commuters found themselves stuck for a few hours in a traffic gridlock spanning an estimated five km on the National Highway-44 stretch between Ludhiana and Ladhowal toll plaza on Saturday.

Protest ended after assurance from cmo

The protesters ended their dharna only after the Theka Mulazam Sangharsh Morcha received a written assurance from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), confirming a scheduled meeting on December 20 at the CMO with members of the morcha.

A significant number of contractual employees from different government departments, affiliated with the Theka Mulazam Sangharsh Morcha, blocked the toll plaza and sat on dharna against the state government for not regularising their jobs and meeting other demands.

The protest persisted for around three hours at the toll. On one side of the highway from Ludhiana (opposite Tiger Safari) to the Ladhowal toll plaza, many vehicles were stranded in the traffic jam caused by the protest. However, the traffic flow, at a slow pace, continued on the other side of the highway, from the toll towards Jalandhar Bypass, Ludhiana.

Commuters said they encountered inconveniences while stuck in the jam. A commuter, Surjit Singh, who was going to Jalandhar with his family, said he was stuck in the long traffic jam before the Ladhowal flyover. A woman said organising such protests amounts to blatant harassment of the public. She said it was the responsibility of the government and administration to ensure there are no road blockades.

Around 11:30 am, the members of the morcha blocked the traffic on the highway section that connects Ludhiana with Jalandhar at Ladhowal toll. Varinder Singh, president of the union, said this morning, despite the imposed restrictions by the state government, thousands of contractual employees with their families from across the state participated in the protest. He said despite rendering continuous services for the past 15-20 years in various government departments such as Water Supply and Sanitation, Powercom and Transco, government thermal plants, Verka milk plants, Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board and Health Department, they had been receiving inadequate salaries and facing neglect. Their demands are not being met.

Kuldeep Singh, the union secretary, said their primary demand had been the regularisation of jobs for contractual employees for a long time. The protesters claimed that despite receiving assurances for a meeting with the Chief Minister 18 times in the past, no such meeting was organised. Last month, memorandums were sent to the state government twice but they went unanswered. The government was informed that if their demands were not addressed by December 7, a protest on the national highway would be held on December 9. Consequently, the employees staged a protest today after their voices were not heard by the government, they said.

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