The 8.5-km Qazigund-Banihal tunnel is set to miss another deadline as labourers are on a strike for the past more than 40 days.
Local labourers on strike have alleged wage disparity in comparison with their counterparts from outside the state. They say the project implementing unit and the executing agency do not listen to their grievances.
Labour Union president Ghulam Nabi Khan said wage disparity was not the only problem they had been facing.
“It (the executing agency) is not ready to recognise our union. The winter allowances and stalled overtime payments are other issues we are fighting for,” Khan said. He added that the labourers were determined to take their strike to its logical end.
The tunnel project is under the National Highways Authority of India and is being executed by a private firm, Navyuga Engineering Company.
The work on the tunnel has come to a grinding halt due to the strike by 800 labourers.
Minister for Roads and Buildings Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari had visited the site on May 27 this year and expressed displeasure over the slow pace of work on the tunnel.
The new deadline for the completion of the tunnel has been set as May 2016.
About 50 per cent of the tunnel work has been completed so far.
Project Manager Divyando Haldar called the demands of the labourers unreasonable. “The deadline of the tunnel will be affected and there is little we can do. Negotiations are on with the labourers,” said Haldar.
Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, Muneer-ul-Islam said it was unfortunate that prolonged sessions of negotiations with the representatives of the labourers had yielded nothing.
“I had a seven-hour-long meet with them. Despite being accommodative and dishing out extensive benefits to the labourers, the deadlock remains,” said the Anantnag Deputy Commissioner.
Muneer-ul-Islam said on the Banihal side of the tunnel, work had started after fruitful negotiations with the Labour Union there.
“Unfortunately, on this side, we will have to take legal recourse to end the deadlock,” he said.