Development projects hit by of Bihar staff strike

January 28th, 2009 - 8:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Sushil KumarPatna, Jan 28 (IANS) Development projects in Bihar have been hit by the ongoing indefinite strike by government employees, which continued for the 22nd day Wednesday, officials here said. “It is wrong to say that the strike has not affected development projects,” said an official of the Bihar Infrastructure Development Authority.

Another official posted at the state secretariat said development schemes were the primary victim of the strike. “Several development schemes are either delayed or are moving slowly.”

Officials also admitted that most departments are lagging behind plan expenditure targets, saying it is unlikely these would be met in the remaining two months of the current fiscal.

More than 300,000 government employees are on strike in Bihar, with most government offices, particularly the treasury and registration departments and even hospitals wearing a deserted look Wednesday.

The striking employees are demanding implementation of the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission in “letter and spirit” after failure of talks with Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who also holds the finance portfolio. Modi, who belongs to the ruling Janata Dal (United) alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party, refused to accept the demands, citing a funds crunch.

“We have repeatedly sought the intervention of the chief minister (Nitish Kumar) but there was no response,” said strikers’ leader Ram Narayan Rai.

The chief minister recently said an amount of Rs.16,000 crore (Rs.160 billion) is spent annually on payment of salaries and pension while the plan size of the state is Rs.13,000 crore (Rs.130 billion).

Earlier this week, when employees refused to return to work, the government sought explanations from them and hinted at disciplinary action. It has also served them with show-cause notices.

“The heads of different department have been asked to issue notices to employees absent from work,” said Amir Subhani, principal secretary in the department of personnel and administrative reforms.

Meanwhile, Left parties have decided to call a state-wide strike in the first week of February in support of the striking government employees.

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