Union's postpone bandh, at least, as of now
Geetanjali Minhas | August 1, 2011
Hectic rounds of parley between Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and representatives of nine mill-workers' union averted a proposed bandh on Monday called by Shiv Sena-BJP-RPI and Left alliance, demanding free housing for workers.
Chavan assured workers that the state government will work out a solution for rehabilitation of mill workers. Ruling out free housing as demanded by workers, the chief minister explained that it was impossible to provide homes for 1,09,000 workers as it would require 150 hectares of land. The government could only provide approximately 16,000 houses.
Some positive outcomes of Sunday’s meeting that left the mill workers union happy were -
1. Acceptance of 1981-82 cut–off date as against the earlier 2000, and
2. Mill-workers families (legal heirs) who own a house will also be eligible. Domicile certificate will not be required.
The chief minister promised the representatives that he will discuss the issue with all parties in the ongoing assembly session and set up a committee including the unions' representatives within 2-3 months to decide on reduced costs and increasing availability of housing.
Uday Bhat of Sarva Shramik Sanghatana who met the chief minister said, The government should tax mill owners for hefty profits generated through sale of mills and provide free housing to mill workers” and added that as of now bandh had been postponed to a later date.
It was through the 1991 development plan that the government decided to commercially exploit mill land. The land was to be divided three ways between mill owners, mill workers and the government. Later in 2003, the congress government changed the plan to include only open spaces in one third policy. The covered area like buildings and sheds would be vested entirely with the owner. 25 mills are owned by the government’s National Textile Mills while 33 are private.
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