The apathetic attitude of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) has left its nearly 1,000 newly recruited linemen without any medical cover in case of any accident, even during duty hours.
Though the corporation had ordered that these contract-based linemen be covered under the Employees' State Insurance (ESI) in October 2013, the linemen remain uninsured.
A lineman, Lakhwinder Singh, 30, suffered burns when he was repairing a fuse at Nanda Colony, Kailash Nagar Road, on Saturday. His colleagues rushed him to Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) where he continues to be admitted.
However, as Lakhwinder is not covered under the ESI, all expenditure for his treatment is being borne by him and his colleagues, who are pooling in. Lakhwinder, who got married just a month ago, is the bread winner of a family of five.
Dilbagh Singh, a colleague of the victim, alleged that Lakhwinder suffered burns during duty hours, and still he was marked absent. "We all are collecting money for his treatment. Sunder Nagar executive engineer (XEN) also helped him monetarily. But, if we were provided ESI cards, we would not have to look around for such favours. PSPCL has no value of its employees' lives," Dilbagh added.
Piramal Singh, president of Linemen Union of PSPCL, alleged that, "No health benefit is provided to the newly recruited linemen. The PSPCL ordered that these linemen be provided ESI cards on October 11, 2013, but the linemen neither got any insurance cover not the PSPCL followed up on its order. The PSPCL headquarters in Patiala had also ordered to deduct Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) for linemen, but even that is not being followed."
He said linemen often endangered their lives while performing jobs, and the least the corporation could do was provide them proper health coverage.
Rachpal Singh, chief engineer, PSPCL, Ludhiana, at first feigned ignorance about ESI facilities to linemen, but later said they would make ESI facility available to them, as their lives were precious.
He said if a lineman was involved in an accident while on duty, he or she could not be considered absent, adding that Lakhwinder's medical bills would be reimbursed.