J’khand workers stuck in Mali seek help for return home

Published on Jan 17, 2022 10:01 PM IST

Around three dozen residents of Jharkhand, working at a power transmission line laying project in the African country of Mali, have sought help from the authorities back home to ensure payment of their pending salaries and safe return to India.

In all, 33 migrant workers from Giridih and Hazaribag districts are stuck in Mali’s capital district Bamako. (Picture for representation)
In all, 33 migrant workers from Giridih and Hazaribag districts are stuck in Mali’s capital district Bamako. (Picture for representation)
By, Ranchi

Around three dozen residents of Jharkhand, working at a power transmission line laying project in the African country of Mali, have sought help from the authorities back home to ensure payment of their pending salaries and safe return to India.

In all, 33 migrant workers from Giridih and Hazaribag districts are stuck in Mali’s capital district Bamako. They claim they haven’t been paid for the last three months and the contractor who hired them for the project has fled from Mali with their passports.

“The contractor, Ramesh Chakravarty, fled to India on January 6 this year. He didn’t inform us and he also took away our passports. We have not been paid for past three months. We are hardly left with any money. In the next 2-3 days, even our ration would exhaust. We don’t even know if the contractor has paid the rent for our present accommodation. We want authorities to help us in getting back home and also ensure our pending salaries are cleared,” Dilip Mahto, one of the workers stuck in Mali, said over phone.

Dilip Mahto belongs to Tirla village under Bagodar police station in Giridih district. Other workers also belong to Giridih and neighbouring Hazaribag district.

Topeshwar Mahto, whose father Chhedilal Mahto is also among those stuck in Mali, said the contractor had been exploiting the workers ever since he took them there in January 2021.

“My father informed us the contractor never paid them on time. Moreover, they were not paid the salary as promised,” said 25-year-old Topeshwar, who does odd jobs in his village Murma in Hazaribag while preparing for government job examinations.

The whole issue was raised by Sikander Ali, a local rights activist in Giridih, on different platforms, including social media.

State’s education minister Jagarnath Mahto, in a tweet, urged union external affairs minister S Jaishankar to intervene in the matter, besides requesting state’s labour minister Satyanand Bhokta to follow up.

Bhokta said he was monitoring the situation and has directed the state migrant workers’ control room to the needful.

Convener of the control room, Johnson Topon, said they have established contact with the stuck workers and speaking to authorities for their safe return.

“We are lining up a virtual meeting with the management of the Hyderabad-based company at the work site in Mali. We will also soon be in touch with the Indian embassy there. We are also getting the exact details of the contractor so that we can ensure a case is registered against him and penal action taken as per law,” said Topno.

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