As many as 3,400 employees and officers of Jharkhand’s Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC), who are engaged in preparing a robust launching pad for the flight of Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) landmark projects such as Chandrayaan-3 and Gaganyaan, are going through a financial strain as they have not been paid their monthly salaries for the past 13 months.
While the technical workers employed with HEC have not been paid monthly salaries for the last seven to eight months.
Dozens of HEC engineers in groups have been protesting for the last 40 days outside HEC’s headquarters at Dhurva, Ranchi, demanding payment of their salaries while on the other hand, they have also been racing against time to complete their work assignment of supplying all the heavy machinery required for the flight of Chandrayaan-3 and Gaganyaan missions.
HEC is the oldest and premier engineering institutes of the country and has earned the reputation of being known as the “Mother of All Industries”.
An HEC official said that recently the basic structure of the second launchpad has been supplied for the Gaganyaan project.
As many as four different types of cranes, folding-cum-vertically repositionable platforms, sliding doors, mobile launching pedestals, vertical turning and boaring machines including other equipment have been delivered till now for the Gaganyaan project.
Apart from this, commissioning of several heavy machines is in the final stage.
The manufacturing of equipment like wheel bogie
assembly and folding platform has been completed and will be supplied to ISRO soon.
It was also a big challenge to transport these instruments weighing hundreds of tonne made at the HEC to Sriharikota station of ISRO, but it was successfully completed.
To ensure that the satellite rocket does not move, a crane built by HEC has been installed at a height of 80 metre.
This crane has the ability to withstand tremendous wind pressure. This is not the first time that ISRO projects have created records with the help of HEC.
HEC has manufactured the launching pads, cranes and heavy machines of most of the satellites sent in space so far.
Not only ISRO, Coal India, Indian Railways, Ministry of Defence, including dozens of institutions, have been depending on HEC for heavy machines, but an institution such as HEC with glorious achievements is in shambles today.
Right from the officers to the employee working in HEC are protesting today to save the institution.
Apart from ISRO, the company has received work orders worth Rs 1,500 crore from the Ministry of Defence, Railways, Coal India and steel sector, but due to lack of working capital, 80 per cent of the work has come to a standstill.
There has been a steady decline in HEC’s production for the last five years. Only 25 per cent of the machines are being used in the factory set up in HEC.
The use of many machines in the Heavy Machine Building Plant and Foundry Forge Plant has been stopped.
From special oil used in machines to minor spare parts, it is no longer possible to buy them.
There is also a shortage of coal including raw materials.
The HEC has requested the Ministry of Heavy Industries several times to provide it a working capital of Rs 1,000 crore, but the Ministry has already made it clear that the Union government cannot help the factory in any way. The company’s management has to stand on its own feet, the government says.
On Saturday, all anti-BJP parties marched to the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi, demanding saving the HEC.
Hundreds of workers from the Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (M-L), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress staged a protest against the ruling BJP government at the Centre in Ranchi to save HEC.