Durgapur projects Limited incur hefty demurrage
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Durgapur,  6 January
On eve of state power minister&’s scheduled visit, two stranded railway rakes loaded with imported coal today caused the state owned sick Durgapur projects Limited incurring hefty demurrage worth lakhs of rupees taxed by the Asansol Divisional Railway authority.
The rakes with 59 box wagons each and loaded with imported coal were routed to DPL&’s Coke Oven plant by Steel Authority of India Limited to help conversion to hard coke. The DPL invites expression of interest from the respective parties offering conversion of imported coking coal to low ash metallurgical coke. DPL’s facility can convert hard coking coal of Australian or Chinese origin to blast furnace grade metallurgical coke.
The rakes routed to DPL&’s yard are being unloaded by the labourers engaged by the contractor labourers. The agreement between DPL and a contractor agency had lapsed on last 31 December. The DPL meanwhile had offered fresh bid for engaging new agency for the purpose, which was yet to be determined due to ‘exorbitant rate’ quoted by the three bidders. Against existing rate of Rs 1625 per ton, the bidders have quoted Rs 3325 minimum rate which has raised eyebrows in DPL and brought the stalemate. The senior Coke Oven officials said: “A committee has been set up to look after the matter, which too was yet to table a report.”
The labourers engaged for the purpose of unloading meanwhile have gone on indefinite strike demanding new wage agreement. Mr Dibyendu Banerjee, secretary of the Intuc affiliated contractor labour union at DPL said: “We have heard that the authority has given one month&’s extension to the existing contactor but the concerned contractor agency hasn’t renewed a new wage agreement and is asking to shoulder the job against piece-rate, which is in contravention to the negotiation settled by the Deputy Labour Commissioner here.”
Though the agreement with the agency had elapsed on 31 December, the labourer had agreed to extend cooperation when one rake had arrived on 1 January. But the labourers erupted especially two more rakes entered on 5 & 6 January respectively. They refused to take part in the unloading work.
The labour unrest has put DPL in a shamble today as the power minister Mr Manish Gupta is scheduled to visit the undertaking tomorrow.
The Asansol Division with the Eastern Railway provides rakes for transportation of coal to DPL and one rake is given eight hours of normal time for unloading.
“After every additional hour of detention, we charge Rs 150 per wagon as demurrage. For the first rake, the volume of demurrage has crossed Rs 2.16 lakh at 7 p.m. today and the counting for demurrage for the second rake will start after 8 p.m. today.” Mr R N Ganguly, Deputy General Manager, Coke Oven plant of DPL said:
“The striking labourers had served a notice of agitation scheduled on 16 January on fresh wage negotiation issue. It was ridiculous to learn that they have stranded the rakes and have caused the inconvenience to DPL.”
He added: “For the first rake the volume of demurrage has already crossed 20 hours today.”