The Coordination Committee of Registered MeECL (Employees) Associations and Unions (CCORMAU) has threatened to plunge Meghalaya into darkness if their pending salaries are not paid soon.
The employees, who were taking part in an all-India protest of electricity employees against moves towards the privatization of the industry, also slammed the delay in paying pension dues to retired employees.
“This time we are going to take drastic action. We are not going to allow our pensioners to be victimized. For the last three years their dues have not been paid. The government should immediately release Rs 840 crores in terminal benefits, failing which we will intensify our agitation,” Arju Dkhar, CCORMAU Vice-President, told reporters.
Other issues CCORMAU raised during the protest was their demand for casual employees to be regularized, a halt to new loans taken out by MeECL, expediting hydroelectric projects and the abandoning of thoughts of privatization.
The organisation is against MeECL taking on more debt as it fears that the utility, already struggling financially, could reach a point of no return if its debts balloon.
“They have taken loans just to please the corporate houses and a few politicians,” Dkhar said. “In the Assembly recently we have seen many allegations made by the opposition. I think it is high time that the government and management come clean on all those allegations because we will see that many loans have been availed where it was not at all required.”
He claimed that of the Rs 441 crore loans under the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP), only part of the detailed project report amounting to Rs 200 crore was prepared by officers of the MeECL, with the remainder the responsibility of “private parties”, which CCORMAU opposes.
Meanwhile, the public utility employees are also opposed to the loans being taken out to fund the installation of smart meters in the state. Although they are not opposed to the idea of smart meters, they fear that adding more debt to the company’s books might overwhelm MeECL.
Dkhar even suggested that there could be a conspiracy to intentionally cause the collapse of the firm by burying it in debt so as to pave the way for privatization.