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Manpower crisis hits Gas Cracker Project

By Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, May 19 � Close on the heels of the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) reporting fifteen per cent progress of work, a fresh crisis has gripped Assam Gas Cracker Project with a massive flight of workers, contractors and engineers from the project site leading to manpower shortage.

Reports of flight of workers including managers, engineers, skilled and semi-skilled contractors from the project site have reached the Prime Minister�s Office (PMO), with the Secretary, Department of Chemicals and Fertilisers, Bijoy Chatterjee dashing off a letter, a copy of which is with this newspaper, to Union Home Secretary GK Pillai seeking additional security cover for the employees.

Though the incident took place on February 23, when a clash took place between local labourers and work hand hired from outside the State, the situation was brought under control after intervention by the local district administration.

However, the incident has badly shaken the confidence of the workers. Most of the managers, engineers, highly skilled, semi-skilled workers and contractor manpower from outside Assam who planned and created the work fronts, left the work site, leading to a manpower crisis in the Project, Chatterjee wrote to Pillai.

The Department has now requested the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to increase the presence of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at the project site.

�While the Brahmaputra Crackers and Polymers Limited (BCPL) and the Assam Government are making all efforts to ensure that such incidents do not recur in future, it is felt that greater presence of CISF will ensure confidence building among the workers and lead to their return to work,� the Secretary said in his letter.

BCPL had on March 4 written a letter to the Director General CISF to increase the strength to 117 security personnel from 38.

It has been learnt that the security issue figured at a meeting convened by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, TKA Nair, in the same month, when the progress of the gas cracker project was reviewed.

The meeting decided that the issue should be taken up with the Home Secretary and a plea for raising the strength of CISF manpower at the Project site be made.

The PMO has set up a special cell, headed by the Principal Secretary, who has been assigned to monitor the progress of the flagship projects every month. A monitoring committee in the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals (DCPC) has been set up separately under the chairmanship of the Secretary, to monitor the Project closely.

The Department regularly briefs Nair on the status of the Project. The PMO has expressed its keen desire to have the project work completed within the stipulated 60 months

The Secretary in his letter also mentioned that the Prime Minister had desired that the implementation of the Project should be put on a superfast track. Even though an implementation period of 60 months has been envisaged, it was stated that all efforts should be made to complete the project before the stipulated time period, Chatterjee said.

As reported in this newspaper on Monday, chairman of GAIL, BC Tripathi had claimed that 15 per cent of the project work has been completed till date. However, there were reports that the Project has managed to achieve only 12.9 per cent progress against the projected target of 24.3 per cent.

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