Police arrest labourers protesting against Melamchi projectWorkers, vendors and subcontractors of the project are yet to receive over Rs169million in remuneration and provident fund.
Police on Monday arrested five unpaid labourers and vendors protesting against the Melamchi Water Supply Project.
The workers were demonstrating peacefully in front of the project office in Melamchi Bazaar demanding payment for their work. They had staged a rally and engaged in sloganeering.
Among the arrestees are Uttam Kumar Shrestha, Rajanlal Shrestha, Purushottam Shrestha, Buddhikrishna Lamichhane and Balaram Lamichhane. Witnesses say they were protesting by maintaining physical distance in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The local subcontractors, vendors and workers have been protesting for the past two years claiming that Cooperativa Muratorie Cementisti di Ravenna (CMC), the Italian contractor of the project, has not paid them their dues.
Workers, vendors and subcontractors of the project are yet to receive over Rs169million in remuneration and provident fund.
The demonstrators said that the police crackdown doesn’t bode well. ”The police are threatening us for no reason,” Rajkumar Bhattarai, a member of the Melamchi Project Victims’ Struggle Committee, told the Post. ”If the government tries to suppress our voice in a peaceful protest, our struggle will intensify.”
Bhattarai added that the committee had signed a five-point deal with the project officials in August last year, but the project has not abided by the agreement.
”We are not begging the government for money; we are demanding our remuneration for which we worked hard,” Bhattarai said. ”Why is the government trying to rob us?”
The protesters have submitted their complaints to the prime minister’s office, the project, and the ministry and local units concerned. They have warned of obstructing work if they remain unpaid.
Since the departure of the CMC, the project had selected Sinohydro Corporation Ltd of China to complete the remaining works.
The ’national pride project’ is expected to supply 170 million litres of water to Kathmandu daily.