Madurai

North Indian contract labourers stage sit-in on KKNPP campus

Migrant labourers submitted a petition at Collectorate in Tirunelveli on Monday.  

TIRUNELVELI

Over 1,500 contract labourers of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) struck work on Monday and staged sit-in on the KKNPP premises where they have been kept in the temporary sheds, urging their contractors to send them back to their native places immediately.

After stalling the ongoing construction of reactors 3 and 4 and the earthwork for construction of reactors 5 and 6 for a while following the nationwide lockdown, the KKNPP resumed the activities a week ago. When the works were stalled, the 5,000-odd construction workers from the North Indian States, who are living in the sheds erected on the KKNPP premises, were not allowed to go out of the campus fearing that they might contract the viral infection outside.

Even as the construction activities and the earthwork resumed following relaxation of lockdown, power generation in the first reactor of KKNPP was stopped on April 30 last for the scheduled annual maintenance during which 33% of the spent fuel would be replaced with the fresh enriched uranium fuel bundles. Though this exercise would be completed robotically, it would also require a good number of workers, mainly contract labourers, for the allied activities happening outside the reactors.

In the meanwhile, a larger section of these contract labourers, who had been kept idly in the sheds with asbestos or tin roof, became unrest due to space constraints and paucity of water and toilets.

The protesters said they, after a proper medical screening of every labourer on the KKNPP campus, should be sent back to their home States. After the talks held with the protesting labourers by the contractors’ representatives failed, the KKNPP officials, mostly the officials taking care of construction activities, held talks with them in the presence of police and the revenue officials.

“In fact, we were preparing the list of the labourers willing to go back to their native places after they started reiterating it. Since most of the contract labourers involved in the construction activities are firm in their decision of going back to their native places, we’re in touch with the contractors, police and the revenue officials in finalising their travel back to their States. If it comes through, they will be sent back,” said a senior KKNPP official, who participated in today’s talks with the labourers.

Accepting this assurance, the protesting contract labourers gave up their protest and returned to work.

Meanwhile, appealing to the district administration to take immediate steps to send them back to their home States of Bihar and Jharkhand, a group of migrant workers from these two north Indian States, staged a dharna for a while in front of the Collectorate and submitted a petition to the officials on Monday.

They said after being left unemployed owing to the lockdown, they were struggling a lot for food and shelter.

Hence, they should be sent back to their home States at the earliest, they said.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 10:23:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/north-indian-contract-labourers-stage-sit-in-on-kknpp-campus/article31501960.ece

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