HDMC central office becomes hub of protests

HDMC central office becomes hub of protests

With BJP relaunching its protest seeking pending pension grants to the Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC), HDMC retired employees continuing their protest seeking payment of monthly pension, and HDMC's contractors joining the protest demanding payment of their bills, the funds crunch-hit HDMC's central office premises here became a 'protest zone' on Thursday.

Seeking a clear answer from Congress MLA or MLC regarding the pension grants, corporators and members of the BJP, which is the ruling party in the HDMC, staged protest in front of MLA Prasad Abbayya's office. Later, they closed the doors of the HDMC offices, sending the employees out. Then they entered the Lamington Road, and staged a rasta roko for more tan half-an-hour, causing traffic congestion. Police arrested the protesters, and released them later.

When the protest by the HDMC Retired Employees' Welfare Committee members entered its fourth day on Thursday, HDMC Contractors' Association members also joined them, seeking the release of over Rs 20 crore pending bills for the civil works executed. Together, they staged protest in front of the HDMC commissioner's office.

Retired employees lamented that their pension amount was delayed since last couple of months, and it was not yet paid this month. Contractors noted that their bills are not paid by the HDMC, and they are in trouble. They also leveled charges about corruption in the HDMC, and demanded to stop the tender process for new works till the pending bills are paid.

At one point of time, when BJP workers expressed support for pensioners and contractors, they asked BJP workers to come without their party symbol.

Office doors closed, road blocked

Along with Bhajan Mandali, corporators and workers of the BJP staged protest in front of MLA Prasad Abbayya's office, and they demanded clarification from him regarding the duration required for the State Government to release Rs 120 crore pending pension grants to the HDMC, accumulated since 2014-15.

"As pension grants are not given, the HDMC gave pension to retired employees using its general fund. Now, the civic body is unable to pay November's pension amount and has not paid the contractors' bills also. The State Government has not yet fulfilled its promise to release the pending pension grants. Now, MLA Prasad Abbayya should give a clarification," they said.

After waiting for Mr Abbayya till 12:30, BJP workers sent out the staff at HDMC offices, including the commissioner's office, and closed the doors. A few pensioners and contractors also joined them.

Later, BJP workers staged rasta roko on Lamington Road, due to which heavy traffic congestion was experienced at the heart of the City. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law & Order) Renuka Sukumar also rushed to the spot. Police detained more than 20 protesters including Corporators Veeranna Savadi, Mallikarjun Horakeri, Saudhir Saraf, BJP leaders Dattamurthy Kulkarni, Santosh Chavan and others, and released them later.

Later, MLA Prasad Abbaya visited the HDMC premises, and met agitating pensioners and contractors. "Pension grants are pending due to the errors by the HDMC officials, and attempts are being made to get that amount as a special grant to the HDMC," he said.

Pensioners end stir

HDMC Retired Employees' Welfare Committee members withdrew their protest in the evening, after they received their pension amount for the month of November.

MLA Prasad Abbayya had assured that the pension amount would be paid by evening, and accordingly, we received the message of money credited with our bank account, committee president Shrishailappa Shettar said.

One more protest

Members of Dharwad District SC/ST Pourakarmikara Naukarara Sangha also staged a protest at the HDMC central office premises, charging that the HDMC has failed to implement the recommendations of the Safai Karmachari Commission.

They demanded payment of minimum wages arrears to contract pourakarmikas, breakfast instead of breakfast allowance, and other facilities.

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