On Bapu's anniversary, khadi workers a glum lot

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, Oct 1: As the tion draws up elaborate plans to observe the 147th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi tomorrow, some 450 employees of the Assam Khadi and Villages Industries Board have little to cheer about.

The employees, who have not been paid their salaries for over five months now, are struggling to make ends meet. Some of them had raised the issue with the chairman of the board, only to be slapped showcauses notices later.

“We are surprised at the way the government is neglecting the board. The officers at the Handloom, Textiles and Sericulture department have been indifferent to the needs of the board. Movement of our files in the department is sluggish,” said an employee of the board declining to be med.

The board employees do not enjoy facilities like pension, gratuity, paid leave etc.

They say that though the current dispensation in New Delhi has listed khadi as a priority sector, the Assam government is uble to send fresh proposals for approval.

“Our board meetings too are not regular. In the last three years, there were only two board sittings. You can imagine how the board is functioning,” said another employee.

Due to the government’s step-motherly treatment, the board is even uble to meet the demands of the growing khadi market.

“The supply of raw materials is very limited. During the last Independence Day celebrations, the board could not meet the demand for tricolors,” he said.

As many as 45 casual employees are serving in the board since the last thirty years on a monthly stipend of a mere Rs 4,500. “Instead of regularizing their jobs, the board is now planning to recruit 54 new employees. We have been told that the board has not taken approval from the Fince department for the fresh appointments. In a similar instance, twelve employees were appointed in the past without the approval of the Fince department,” said another insider.

The employees are also aggrieved at the board’s decision to re-appoint two retired employees as OSDs.

Sources also said that the board had earlier tried to lease out two plots – a 1.5 bighas plot located at Noonmati and another 22 bighas at Hengerabari – to private parties, but the conspiracy was foiled by the timely intervention of Commissioner & Secretary SP ndy.

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