The preparation for the slum rehabilitation scheme, one of the most ambitious projects of UT administration to make the city slum free, has hit a roadblock owing to the pen-down strike by the employees of Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB).
The board had constructed 8,448 flats in Dhanas to rehabilitate slumdwellers of Colony Number 5, Chandigarh.
CHB employees, under the banner of Chandigarh Housing Board Employees Co-ordination Committee (CHBECC) have been sitting on hunger strike for the past 68 days, demanding implementation of the pension scheme for employees.
As they failed to get desired response from the administration, as well as officials of the board, the employees proceeded on pen-down strike intensifying their stir on June 19.
Therefore, even as the administration is gearing up to host a function to hand over the flats in the last week of June, owing to the pen-down strike, the CHB employees are not putting up the files to enable the board to issue allotment letters to the allottees.
The UT administration had planned to hand over the possession of these flats in the last week of June. But the date is yet to be finalised as they are awaiting for a nod from the Prime Minister's office.
CHB sources claim that as Prime Minister was expected to come to city to hand over the keys to the allottees, the date would be finalised as soon as the board gets the nod.
As part of the preparations, the board had expected to process about 600 files. But the strike has not allowed even a single file to be put up in the past three days.
The employees to protest against the delay in implementation of the pension scheme, have also stopped work on the site in Dhanas and threatened not to resume till their demands are met.
"All we are demanding is implementation of pension scheme, which was approved in 2009. But as administration and CHB management failed to resolve the issue, we were forced to proceed on pen-down strike. Till our demands are met, employees would neither put up files to pave way for issuance of allotment letters nor work on the site," said Shinder Pal Singh, president of the union.
"It is unfortunate that owing to the apathy of the officials, the employees s well as common man is suffering. The residents of Colony Number 5 are suffering as the work has been stalled and their files are not being processed. The residents have been making rounds, but with the employees on strike, no one is processing the files, which would further delay handing of the possession of the flats," said local councillor Harphool Chand Kalyan.
The CHB had started work on the project in 2008 on 162.5 acres in Dhanas with a motive to remove Colony Number 4 and 5.
The project, which has been in the pipeline for over five years, is almost complete now. In fact, the UT administrator had recently directed the officials concerned to intensify the efforts to relocate the residents of 18 existing slum colonies to flats constructed under the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM).
In 2006, the UT administration had decided to rehabilitate all existing slumdwellers of 18 colonies at eight locations in city.
Hunger strike completes 68 days
While the administration and the CHB management failed to meet the demand of the CHB employees, their hunger strike completed 68 days on Friday.
Another group of five CHB employees - Sanjeev Goel, Jarnail Singh, Kishori Lal, Mohinder Singh and Tara Chand - sat on a 24-hour hunger strike in rotation to register their protest. The employees have been sitting on strike since April 15.