Hemant nod to Border Roads Organisation to recruit over 11,000 workers

This labourer at Birsa Munda Airport was among the many migrant workers who arrived in Ranchi on Monday by a chartered flight from Ladakh. Over the week, more than 200 workers are said to be coming from various parts of the country.

No agents allowed, organisation must register under workmen’s act and sign MoU with state government

Jharkhand government on Monday gave its consent to the Border Roads Organisation for recruiting over 11,800 workers from the tribal state provided BRO registers as an employer under the Interstate Migrant Workmen Act and does away with third party recruitment agencies and individuals, officials in the chief minister's office said.

The Jharkhand government also asked the BRO to subsequently sign an MoU with the state after a go-ahead from the ministry of defence to ensure respectful and healthy working conditions for the state’s tribal workers, a close aide of chief minister Hemant Soren told The Telegraph Online.

The MoU, he claimed, would be the first of its kind in the country, aimed at safeguarding the interests of workers while they leave their native villages and work for construction of roads in the high-risk military-tension-riddled terrains of the India-China border.

Chief minister Hemant Soren had personally interacted with the workers, who returned to Jharkhand from Leh recently, and learnt about the alleged exploitation of labourers there, officials said.

After registering with the state government under the provisions of the Act, BRO will have to directly induct workers through deputy commissioners and labour superintendents in Jharkhand. No third-party agencies will play catalysts in the process, Hemant clarified on Monday.

BRO, officials said, had a machinery called “mates” in place. These mates worked as agents and brought cartels of workers from Jharkhand's poverty-stricken Santhal Pargana region to work with the organisation. A major chunk of the wages was allegedly taken away by these mates and workers got little money to meet their ends, officials said.

As per a copy of a document shared by the chief minister on microblogging website Twitter, BRO will have to provide fixed wages, medical facilities, clothing fit for the climate and accommodation to the workers as per the provisions of the Interstate Migrant Workmen Act.

“We are committed to the welfare of our workers and our tribal brothers. They have long served the nation and built its frontiers,” said Hemant. “We are ready to send our workers in the interest of national security but we will not allow any compromise of their welfare rights, benefits and dignity,” he added.

The state government's move comes at a time when there is simmering tension on the Line of Control between India and China. Besides, migrants from Jharkhand, mostly trafficked by slave trading agents, have been subjected to inhuman treatment in other parts of country since decades. Jharkhand is also one of the worst-affected states when it comes to human trafficking.

Workers from the tribal-dominated Santhal Pargana region of Jharkhand have been serving BRO since 1970s. However, the process was never regulated. If highly placed sources in the chief minister's office are to be believed, then defence minister Rajnath Singh himself asked Hemant to intervene in the matter after the latter apprised him about the state of affairs.

The 11, 815 workers that the BRO had requested for recruitment are needed for Operation Vijayak in Ladakh, Project Shivalik in Uttarakhand, Project Deepak in Himachal Pradesh, Project Beacon in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said. 


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