The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to hold talks to end the ongoing unrest over an upcoming state-run 450 megawatt Shongtong-Karcham hydroelectric project in Kinnaur district.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, while hearing a petition filed by the Shongtong-Karcham Hydel Project Workers Union, asked the Kinnaur district deputy commissioner to resolve the issue at the earliest.
It listed the case for further hearing on July 26.
The petitioners said that the Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation, which is executing the project, had engaged a large number of workers.
It had handed over the project works to Patel Engineering Ltd., which further engaged sub-contractors.
There were allegations of consistent and regular violation of labour laws. There were also reports of unrest among the workers since they were not getting salaries since December last year.
The deputy commissioner had imposed prohibitory orders, banning any gathering of five or more persons, to maintain law and order at the project site.
On June 25, the Communist Party of India-Marxist’s state unit sought a probe into the alleged financial bungling and the labour unrest going on for over three months at the hydroelectric project being executed with the Asian Development Bank funding.
In a missive to Chief Secretary V.C. Pharka, CPI-M state secretariat member Tikender Singh Panwar demanded a probe into carrying out of certain excavation work not associated with the project.
“The work was awarded to facilitate some important people of the region… this has to be thoroughly investigated,” he said.
Panwar, who is also the Shimla Deputy Mayor, said there was unrest among the project employees.
“There are many reasons for the unrest, ranging from non-payment of wages to workers to intimidation at the management’s behest,” he said.