Engineers and other technicians deployed for post-earthquake reconstruction in 32 districts have left work and started agitation in district headquarters demanding incentives.
The 2,700 engineers and technicians had briefed the respective chief district officers (CDO), the implementation body for reconstruction in the districts and district coordination committees, and given a 15-day ultimatum after the government stopped the incentive payment they were getting for two years.
They have padlocked the office overseeing reconstruction in those districts on Monday. The local administration opened the office in some districts using the police.
Balaram Ghimire, deployed at Bhimsen Thapa rural municipality 2, Tandang of Gorkha told Setopati that around 250 technicians have come to the district headquarters protesting the government’s decision to stop incentives since the start of the current fiscal year.
“The appointment letter mentions we will be given incentives and other perks and benefits including accident insurance. But we have been denied the perks and benefits for the past eight months,” Ghimire, who is also the Gorkha chairman of the committee to safeguard benefits of technicians with the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), stated.
He claimed that the government has cut all the incentives and is currently paying only the monthly salary, and added that the engineers will not return to duty until all the perks and benefits mentioned in the appointment letter are paid.
The engineers have also demanded security guarantee. “A ward chairman in Ramechhap put pressure on the technician to approve the design of a house, and manhandled the technician on refusing to do that,” he revealed. “How can we work when there is no security?”
The NRA has been sending payment for the technicians despite them doing attendance at the local bodies for a long time.
Engineers are paid a monthly salary of Rs 30,000 and sub-engineers Rs 23,500. The government had paid up to 75 percent of salary in incentives to the technicians deployed for reconstruction depending upon the geography of the place and progress in work.
Approval of reconstructed houses has been stopped while victims will not get the remaining installments of government grant in lack of approval of the houses as engineers have stopped working.
NRA Spokesperson Pitambar Ghimire said discussions are on about giving incentives to the technicians deployed in 32 districts affected by the Gorkha Earthquake of April 25, 2015. “The NRA is aware of their demands. We are holding discussions to fulfill their demands,” spokesperson Ghimire told Setopati.
He claimed that the incentives have been stopped as per the government decision and added that discussions are on to give incentives to those deployed at remote places. “We will issue circular once we reach decision. There is no need to start agitation stopping work.”