Engineers go on indefinite strike in Bihar; doctors’ body support them

Patna,(BiharTimes): Over 5,000 engineers of Bihar went on indefinite strike from Wednesday (Feb 6) to press their charter of demands, which among other things, include introduction of central pay-scale, immediate stoppage to contractual appointments and halt to the highhandedness of bureaucrats and their interference.

Incidentally, the doctors body, the Bihar Health Service Association, on Wednesday decided to openly back the striking engineers on the plea that the demand of both the trade union bodies are the same. They both held the bureaucracy responsible for the sorry state of affairs.

The strike is likely to cripple all the government developmental works and may have iumpact on the utilization of nearly Rs 10,000 crore in the remaining two months of this financial year. The state is already far behind in spending the development funds as only 65 per cent has been spent in the 10 months.

The departments likely to be hit by the strike are road construction, building construction, water resources, public health and engineering, urban development and housing, rural works, minor irrigation, and planning and development departments etc. Day to day functioning such as water supply etc may also be affected.

The general secretary of the Bihar Engineering Services Association (BESA), Rajeshwar Misrha, on Wednesday accused the state government of not fulfilling their demands.

“We gave strike calls in Jan 2009 and March 2010 but both the time we called it off. We finally gave ultimatum on Jan 27 after organizing a big convention in Patna. The government responded to our demand negatively despite several rounds of talks.”

While chief minister Nitish Kumar is in Bodh Gaya his ministerial colleagues, Water Resources minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary, Public Health and Engineering minister Chandra Mohan Rai and Rural Works minister Bhim Singh said that the engineers should not have gone on strike. They conceded that their agitation would affect the work.

On the other hand Finance department principal secretary Rameshwar Singh said there is no immediate solution to engineers’ demands. The engineers have sent a letter to the chief secretary.” 

It needs to be recalled that on February 2, chief secretary Ashok Kumar Sinha had invited the BESA office-bearers to hold a talk in view of its ultimatum to proceed on indefinite strike. The meeting, in which principal secretaries, secretaries and representatives of all works departments were also present, ended without any results.

The main demands of the engineers are:
Provide fixed pay scale of Rs 80,000 to engineers in the rank of engineer-in-chief.
Provide grade pay of Rs 10,000 in the pay-band 4 (Rs 37,000-67,000) to chief engineers.
Implement batch parity on the pattern of Central Engineering Service.
Re-implement grade pay of Rs 5,400 in pay-band 3 (Rs 15,600-39,100) to assistant engineers.
Ensure at least three promotions to graduate engineers in 20 years of service.
Earmark the posts of secretary and principal secretary in all works department exclusively for engineers.

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