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7,000 pensioners in trouble, dock labour board's reserves empty

By Staff
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Kolkata, Apr 6 (UNI) With Calcutta Dock Labour Board (CDLB) pension reserves almost exhausted, future of the 7,000-odd pensioners has become uncertain.

Kolkata Port Trust (KOPT) Chairman Anup Chanda, who is also in-charge of CDLB, told UNI today that if Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways does not extend financial support to the board, it would be difficult for us to continue the pension. ''We had applied to the ministry for a grant of Rs 600 crore to form a corpus pension fund. However, we are yet to receive any response. Ministry of Shipping had approached the Cabinet with the proposal,'' he added.

The revenue earned by the CDLB is around Rs 1.5 crore which is utilised for paying the employees. Pension is paid with the help of the surplus revenue and some earlier reserves, Mr Chanda added.

''Therefore the pension may stop at any moment,'' he said.

Pensions are regularly getting delayed every month with a backlog of more than three months, he added.

Kolkata Port and Dock Pensioner's Association president B B Dutta said, ''Instead of a grant, KoPT should have asked for a loan to save the retired people from this problem.'' The issue of merger between the Calcutta Dock Labour Board (CDLB) and the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) was also kept in abeyance for a couple of years due to non-settlement of terms, Mr Dutta said.

At the CDLB, the discussion on the merger issue started in 1997-98, as advised by the Ministry of Shipping and continued till 2002 at various levels.

The merger proposal had failed due to large pension liabilities amounting to Rs 24 crore annually for 7000 pensioners.

People employed by the Dock Labour Board are generally engaged in loading and unloading of cargo including containers (loaded and empty) on and from vessel. They are not deployed for shore-related jobs, done by shore workers, covered under the MajorPort Trust Act, 1963.

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