Haryana to set up police stations in industrial parks to check unrest

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar  

The government of Haryana is setting up police stations within industrial parks and an industrial intelligence unit that would look out for any signs of festering industrial unrest to improve security for investors.

While the steps to improve security have been taken following incidents of labour unrest and violent industrial strife in and around the Gurgaon-Manesar belt in the recent years, they are part of a larger labour reform agenda recently cleared by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

The police stations and intelligence unit are expected to quickly track and react to ‘unwanted activities’ that could trigger industrial strife. But to be sure, the state also plans to declare IT, auto, textiles and electronics as public utilities, making it difficult for workers to go on strike.

“If one or two incidents happen it should not be construed as a usual feature… It can’t mean the entire climate is spoilt. We have thousands of industries smoothly running. Accidents take place anywhere,” Mr. Khattar told The Hindu in an exclusive interview.

Asked about the strategy to deal with the industrial strife often seen in the state’s auto sector, he said, “Those days are gone now. Such problems won’t recur again and companies have also become responsive. They are also ready to provide all types of facilities. It’s not that they were not giving facilities before.”

The state government has approved many labour reforms that officials said would outdo the reforms initiated by neighbouring Rajasthan. These include steps to restrict inspections to once in five or ten years and only after 15 days’ prior notice to a firm and increase in overtime hours from 50 per quarter to 50 per month.

Legislative changes to be placed before the state’s assembly soon include amendments to the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 that would raise the threshold limit for firms to retrench employees and close units without government permission from the present 100 to 300 employees.

Similarly, the threshold for enforcing the provisions of the Contract Labour Act of 1970 is being increased from a contractor employing 20 workmen to 100 employees. The government is also actively considering a proposal to allow women to work on night shifts.

Being in the concurrent list under the Constitution, labour law reforms can be pursued by the states unilaterally. The NDA Government has been asking states to compete with each other in terms of ease of doing business and encouraging them to be first movers in areas like labour reforms, where the Centre is treading cautiously, invoking the spirit of competitive federalism.

“Whatever Rajasthan has done, we have done even better. It has to be passed in the assembly and then go to the government of India for presidential assent. It’s now a matter of formality. The CM has approved everything,” a top Haryana government official told The Hindu.

Rajasthan, which made the first moves in this direction soon after the 2014 general elections, has made similar changes to the industrial disputes law and raised the employee threshold to be covered under the Contract Labour law from at least 20 employees to 50 or more.

Haryana is also bringing in a new regime to ensure investors are not harassed by frequent inspections.

“Often, inspections by government agencies are a cause of unethical practices. To address this, we have changed the rules to ensure that no inspections can be done without 15 days prior notice. We have also categorized industries into red, orange and green baskets where red category firms would be inspected just once in five years while others would be inspected once a decade,” said the official.

Inspectors from different departments would also have to make their reports available online within 72 hours. Industrial units would no longer be required to seek no-objection certificates and the consent to establish.

The chief minister expressed confidence that investor-friendly reforms like these would take the state among the top five for ease of doing business in India. In a ranking exercise carried out by the Centre last year,

Haryana ranked a low 14 among states.

Under a new enterprise policy 2015, a target investment of Rs. 2 lakh crore, drawn from foreign and domestic sources, had been set. That would generate four lakh skilled jobs in the state.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 10:24:04 PM |

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