No salary to sewa ken­dra staff as govt owes firm ₹203 cr

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - HTPUNJAB - Amit R Joshi

We have re­quested the govt to re­lease our dues so we can clear salaries of our staff. We have to pay in­ter­est and taxes to the govt also AMITABH GHOSH, zonal head, BLS In­ter­na­tional

LUDHIANA: The cash-starved Pun­jab gov­ern­ment owes ₹203 crore to the com­pany — BLS In­ter­na­tional Ser­vices Ltd — that man­ages Sewa Ken­dras across the state re­sult­ing in non-pay­ment of salaries to 7,000 em­ploy­ees.

Opened by the pre­vi­ous Parkash Singh Badal gov­ern­ment, Sewa Ken­dras pro­vide more than 100 cit­i­zen-cen­tric ser­vices to res­i­dents.

On Jan­uary 24 this year, the Cap­tain Amarinder Singh gov­ern­ment de­cided to shut down 75% of the Sewa Ken­dras due to lean foot­fall. As many as 3,500 em­ploy­ees work­ing at the Sewa Ken­dras will lose jobs once the de­ci­sion is im­ple­mented on Au­gust 1.

As against the bill of ₹203 crore, the com­pany re­ceived a mea­gre ₹5 crore from the gov­ern­ment on April 13.

Depart­ment of gov­er­nance re­forms joint sec­re­tary Par­min­der Pal Singh said, “The depart­ment is work­ing on the modal­i­ties to pay the out­stand­ing amount to BLS In­ter­na­tional. We have re­leased ₹131 crore to the com­pany since the ini­ti­a­tion of the project and also re­leased an­other ₹5 crore last week. We will give an­other ₹25 crore to the com­pany soon.”

BLS In­ter­na­tional zonal head Amitabh Ghosh said: “We have re­quested the gov­ern­ment to re­lease ₹203 crore so we can clear dues of our em­ploy­ees. We have to pay in­ter­est and taxes to the gov­ern­ment also.”

Sewa Ken­dra em­ploy­ees staged a dharna out­side the com­pany of­fice at Feroze Gandhi mar­ket on Mon­day. Em­ploy­ees from Mohali, San­grur, Pa­tiala, Bar­nala, Rup­na­gar, Fate­hgarh Sahib and Ludhiana protested against BLS In­ter­na­tional and the state gov­ern­ment.

Jag­mo­han from Muk­t­sar said: “We have not re­ceived salaries from Novem­ber to March. The com­pany never pays us on time and it be­comes dif­fi­cult for us to man­age our homes.”

GUR­PREET SINGH/HT

Lok In­saaf Party MLA Si­mar­jeet Singh Bains in­ter­act­ing with ag­i­tat­ing sewa ken­dra em­ploy­ees dur­ing a protest against non­pay­ment of their salaries in Ludhiana on Mon­day.

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