For employees of Guru Nanak Dev thermal plant at Bathinda, another election only means yet another protest against the ruling government against the decision to close this thermal plant along with two units of Ropar thermal plant.
In 2016, they were sitting on dharnas ahead of the 2017 Vidhan Sabha polls in Punjab as the then ruling SAD-BJP government had proposed to close the plant. Post elections, four units of Bathinda thermal and two units of Ropar were shut down. Ropar thermal was closed partially.
It is 2019 and the employees are on dharna yet again, but this time against the ruling Congress government of Punjab over their decision to put a stamp on SAD-BJP government decision. The thermal plant was closed soon after Congress won the elections.
Gursewak Singh Sandhu, president of Guru Nanak Dev Thermal power plant union, said,”In 2016, the then SAD-BJP government had closed thermal units for six months from October 1, 2016 onwards citing reasons that in winters use of power was less, while they had proposal to close this plant as well. However, as polls were ahead, they kept the proposal in a cold storage. We used to protest against SAD-BJP’s decision of promoting private thermal plants and Manpreet Badal at one such protest announced from the stage that he will not let this plant be closed. But after Congress came to power and he became Finance Minister of Punjab, he ignored us completely. This thermal plant was closed on January 1, 2018 and Manpreet Badal who had supported us before polls started saying that power plant was producing costly electricity and even was a source of pollution..”
He added: “There were over 1300 employees in this power plant, many have been transferred, while nearly 450 contract employees have lost their jobs. As of now nearly 400 regular and 110 contractual employees are working inside the thermal for regular maintenance of the plant.”
Darshan Singh, another member of joint protest forum, said,”We protest against Manpreet’s decision whenever he is in Bathinda. We gherao him, show him black flags as he cheated the employees.”
Rajinder SIngh Nimma, another member, said,”To pacify employees, Punjab government had planned to run one thermal unit on paddy stubble, but that proposal is still on paper.”
He added: “Our issue is the same, but the political party against whom we are protesting has changed. Polls are coming, and the ruling party will be shown our anger.”