Protest over Melamchi project payment row continuesThe protestors have demanded the resignation of Surya Prasad Kandel, alleging that he had embezzled equipment.
An agitated group of local subcontractors, vendors and workers continued their protest over the Melamchi project payment row on Friday.
The group of unpaid construction personnel demonstrated a sit-in at the Melamchi site office, breaching a prohibitory order issued by the Sindhupalchok District Administration Office on Friday.
The protestors have also demanded the resignation of Surya Prasad Kandel, alleging that he had embezzled equipment.
“If the authorities don’t take full responsibility, we will obstruct the movement of vehicles in the Melamchi project site area,” Bishnumani Acharya, coordinator of the Melamchi Water Supply Project Victim’s Struggle Committee, told the Post. “We will continue our protest until the day we get paid.”
The local subcontractors, vendors and labourers have been protesting against authorities claiming that Cooperativa Muratori e Cementisti di Ravenna (CMC), the Italian contractor of the project, has not provided them with the promised salary.
The government had scrapped the Italian company’s contract in February over a longstanding row. It had then selected the Chinese company Sinohydro Corporation Ltd to complete the remainder of the national pride project. Once complete, the project will supply 170 million litres of water daily to the Kathmandu Valley from Melamchi River. The agitating group has said the CMC owes them around 1.68 billion amount as salary and provident fund.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to contain the mob, the District Administration Office had issued a prohibitory order at Ambathan, Sindhu, Gyalthum Audit Camp and the Melamchi Drinking Water Project area.
The Italian company, however, has already identified the unpaid labourers and handed over the documents to the authorities. According to Buddhi Krishna Lamichhane, a sub-contractor, the protestors have handed over a written report of protest to the prime minister, Water Supply Ministry, Melamchi Project and local units.
“We are not demanding donations; we just want out due payment,” Lamichhane said.
On Thursday, five people, including two protestors and three police constables, were injured in a heated showdown between the two parties. Around 350 protesters had rallied from the Melamchi Bazaar to Ambathan, the reservoir site, in an attempt to exert pressure on the concerned authorities to address their demands. The police had fired warning shots and tear gas to contain the mob.
“Unless we get the due amount, we will continue to protest,” Lamichhane said.