Shillong: In a major relief, Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) chairman-cum-managing director (CMD) Arun Kembhavi on Monday assured pensioners of the state-owned electric utility company that an approximate amount of Rs 24 crore will be released to pay their pensions for the months of April and May.

Earlier, the MeECL Pensioners’ Association (MPA) had planned to stage a dharna at the headquarters of MeECL in Lumjingshai, Shillong. As many as 2,600 pensioners were facing difficulties over non-disbursement of pensions for the two months.

The association had lamented that despite several meetings with power minister James Sangma and CMD Kembhavi, there had been no positive outcome. Following their announcement to stage a dharna, the CMD then swung into action and urged the association to call off its planned agitation, it said.

On Monday, the members of the executive committee of MPA met the CMD, who assured that the amount will be released to pay their pensions.

Speaking with EastMojo, Kembhavi said that he has requested the state government to direct MeECL to provide an interim relief till a proper corpus fund is created or a suitable direction can be given to the commission.

“As an interim relief on humanitarian grounds, since thousands of pensioners and their families are suffering, I have pressed for release of two months’ pension today. Hopeful that government will also issue similar direction,” said Kembhavi.

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According to MPA president Marius Kharkongor, it was a positive meeting and the CMD gave them a commitment that the pension for the two months will be paid within this week.

“Because of that, he has requested us to call off the dharna today. So, based on his commitment, we want to cooperate with the management and have decided to call off the dharna. But if nothing positive comes within this week, then we will have to again schedule the next course of our agitation,” said Kharkongor.

According to the association, a majority of the pensioners’ livelihood depended only on pension with no other source of income.

On May 31, the association had written a separate letter to the power minister requesting him to resolve this problem so that the pensioners’ community of MeECL wouldn’t have to suffer.

Following this, several rounds of meetings were held with the power minister and the CMD of MeECL, said Kharkongor.

Till last week, there was no commitment from any side, said Kharkongor. “That’s why we had chalked out a programme to stage a protest today,” he added.

Similarly, T Sangma, general secretary of the association, claimed that many of the pensioners are widows and some are above 50 years of age. “Some are bedridden and many others are in a bad condition. We received phone calls that some are admitted in the hospital after pensions were stopped leading to tension. The calls we received were from children of the pensioners telling us about their problems,” said Sangma.

Meanwhile, CMD Kembhavi said that this is just an interim relief. “This is a decades-old problem and it can’t be solved in a day’s time,” he added.

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