After refusing to pay wages to the Casual laborers, accounts of I&FC div. Sopore Seized

Chief Engineer says, will speak to Ex. Engineer, Posting of SEs in next 3 days

Srinagar, May 17 (RNA): As if, leaving the nearly fourteen divisions of PHE and I&FC in North Kashmir without SEs was not enough, the official accounts of an Irrigation and Flood Control division in the region has been seized leaving the employees more stressed and disturbed. The reason for the seizure of accounts is considered to be the concerned Executive Engineer’s refusal to pay wages to nearly one hundred casual laborers despite directions from Chief and Superintending Engineer. The order for seizure of accounts of I&FC division Sopore was issued by Labour Court in Baramulla.

“While perusing the matter at length, the Authority under Payment of Wages Act (Assistant labor Commissioner Baramulla) is of considered opinion that the enactments of Section-17A of Payment of wages Act, are needed to be invoked in present case, to subserve the ends of justice. The respondents were given ample opportunity by virtue of interim order dated 25-04-2019, wherein application for conditional attachment was preferred by counsel of the applicant, however rather defending they preferred to dilly dally the matter on one pretext or the other . However, keeping the interests of petioners into consideration, who have not been paid since last four years, only intermittently for a meager four months, which in itself is against the fundamental principles of right to live with dignity.

Therefore, in light of what has been stated and on the aforesaid reason, the application seeking conditional attachment, I as Authority under Payment of wages, Act invoke section 17 Aof payment of wages Act against the respondent Number 3 Ex- Engineer (I&FC Division Sopore ) being the paymaster & direct the Treasury Officer Sopore to attach the account head of EX-Engineer I&FC Division Sopore & not to entertain any bills of the Ex- Engineer Sopore till further order from this court.” reads the order, a copy of which lies with RNA.

The Seizure has come after 98 Casual labours approach the labour court against the Executive Engineer for not paying their wages even after being directed by the Chief Engineer and Superintending Engineer to do so. They alleged that he has surrendered huge amount of money but did not pay their wages which has affected their and their families’ lives adversely. Many of the causal labourers told RNA that the Executive Engineer has been rude to them and has always been vindictive.

“He considers himself honest, but does the honesty mean that you won’t do any work. He has destroyed the Division. Look at his record and you will find what he has done to this prestigious Division.”  a group of casual laboureres told RNA.

Sources in the meantime told RNA that the seizure of the accounts has not only the employees distressed but has also left Contractors high and dry whose bills have been stuck in the treasury.

“We all have to pay the price of the conflict within the division. Our bills would get stuck, so would be their own salary and that too ahead of Eid.” a contractor told RNA. Some employees said that their additional one month salary that had performed Panchayat Election Duty could also not be withdrawn due to seizure of the account.

Meanwhile Chief Engineer I&FC, Kashmir A.K Sharma told RNA that he will speak to Executive Engineer and ask him why the attempts were not made to vacate the order.

Regarding the payment to the Casual laboureres who have approached to labour court, Mr. Sharma said that Finance department has issued a circular that the wages are to be paid to those only who have taken the wages for 12 seasons continuously and added that these applicants were not falling in that criteria.

Regarding the Non- availability of SEs in the hydraulic circles of Sopore and Kupwara, the Chief Engineer said that they have initiated the process and fully fledged SEs would be posted in the circles in next few days.

“We have got the direction from the top and have already initiated the process. Even yesterday itself, I had meeting with Secretary on this issue. We are promoting some Executive Engineers and would be posting fully fledged SEs in these circles within next 2-3 days.” Mr. Sharma told RNA. (RNA)