Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Boatmen stir strands 20000 in Malkangiri

TNN 15 July 2009, 10:03pm IST

KORAPUT: With motorboat employees going on an indefinite strike from Wednesday, about 20,000 people living in 151 villages in and around the

Balimela reservoir in Malkangiri district have been cut off from the world.

To tell the truth, the strike has made their life miserable, for they've got to go to Chitrakonda for everything, from healthcare to grocery. Three motorboats, which have been pressed into service by the Balimela hydro-project are the only mode of connectivity.

The villages have been cut off since the 1960s, when vast tracts of forest land and villages were submerged to make way for the Balimela reservoir. Officials said talks are on with the agitating employees.

The motorboat employees are on a dharna at the Chitrakonda ferry point.

The Motorboat Employees Association wants two motorboats in addition to the current two, more staff, regularization of jobs, glass fittings in the launches and extra allowance for night halt.

"We have submitted our demands many times in the last few months but there is no response. But, this time we are firm. We will not withdraw our strike till our demands are fulfilled," an agitating employee said.

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