Workers hit streets on statehood day

Itanagar, Feb 21 : Arunachal Pradesh today celebrated its 23rd Statehood Day amid a massive protest rally staged by government employees. 
The workers took to the streets donning black armbands in protest against the government’s “failure” to implement the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission.
Carrying placards, they held a meeting at Mopin Solong Ground in Itanagar in the morning, took out a massive procession and staged a dharna in front of the secretariat.
They stuck to their earlier stand of boycotting the Statehood Day celebrations after chief minister Dorjee Khandu did not invite them for talks yesterday. Khandu ruled out possibilities of providing any financial package for the employees until the Centre sanctioned grant to the cash-hit state government and urged them to withdraw agitation.
“The state government despite the funds crunch granted the wishes of the employees with the announcement of a revised pay package besides six months arrears that is in line with the pay commission’s recommendations,” he said.
“The Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh achieved a significant first by implementing the pay commission’s recommendations. But the employees, under the banner of Confederation of Service Association of Arunachal Pradesh which itself is faction-ridden, have jeopardised the government’s works. We have sought financial assistance from the Centre. Until the Centre accepts our demand, we are not in a position to concede to the demand of 30 months’ arrears for employees.”
“I appeal to them to call off the agitation and resume work for the greater interest of the state,” Khandu said during a commemoration of the 23rd Statehood Day function at Indira Gandhi Park here.
He announced enhanced minimum rates for labourers with increase in daily wages for unskilled labourers from Rs 55 to Rs 80, a hike from Rs 60 to Rs 85 for the semi-skilled and an increase from Rs 65 to Rs 90 for skilled labourers. 
Governor Gen. (retd) J.J. Singh, said the Himalayan state which was celebrating its 23rd Statehood Day, had traversed a long distance from North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) days with advancement in every field.
“Over the past 22 years the state has made tremendous progress in every field and the last two years have seen a rise in development index. But there is always scope for more development in tourism, horticulture, floriculture, bee-keeping and organic farming sectors,” the governor said.
“The effort of the government for financial empowerment can come through tourism, handicrafts, horticulture, floriculture and organic farming. It is heartening to announce that the government has decided to form 5,000 self-help groups through Micro Finance Vision 2011,” Singh said.
He also unveiled Arunachal Industrial Policy, 2008, and conferred state award on 25 people for excellence in different fields.