Residents of the erstwhile Panem coal mines area under Amrapara block of Pakur district have been struggling to make ends meet following the suspension of mining in March this year.
Apart from those who were assured of adequate rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) packages on the orders of the Supreme Court, hundreds of workers who were engaged with Panem a joint venture of the Punjab electricity board and Eastern Mining and Trading Agency (EMTA) have been jobless for the last nine months.
Helpless, they called on Dumka deputy labour commissioner Rakesh Prasad on Saturday to complain about the discontinuance of their salary. He, however, expressed his helplessness as the matter pertained to the central labour department.
“Labourers engaged in the erstwhile Panem coal mining company had approached the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) regarding the withholding of salary by the management since March this year. The PMO had in turn directed them to approach the the central regional labour commissioner in Patna,” Prasad said.
“A total of 42 mining units reallocated to the respective government-owned agencies, including the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), have been paying salaries to the employees notwithstanding the excavation of coal. Even the employees of the Pachwara central coal block allotted to West Bengal Power Development Corporation Limited (WBPDCL) are getting their salaries. But the employees of the erstwhile Panem coal company of the central Pachwara coal block have not been paid for the last nine months,” said Kamal Pandey, a representative of Panem employees.
Thousands of vehicles earlier engaged in transportation of coals from Pachwara central coal mining area are also lying idle owing to suspension of mining, thereby leading to large-scale unemployment in the region.
A team headed by S K Puri of PSPCL visited Amrapara following the reallocation of the Pachwara central coal block to it. He had assured the employees and the displaced residents of the resumption of the benefits after entering into an agreement with the new company for coal excavation. It is, however, yet to take place, said sources.
“The prevailing situation in the Pachwara coal mining area has turned alarming with both the displaced people and employees of the Panem coal mining company being deprived of R&R facilities besides salary,” Littipara JMM MLA Anil Murmu said, adding he will raise the matter with the stakeholders to reach an immediate solution. Rajesh Kumar Pandey, TOI