A K Banerjee : Concore: A death trap, say employees

RTT has recently received a written complaint from Custom House Agent Employees’ Association signed by more than 50 employees about the pathetic and dangerous working condition prevailing at ICD, Tughlaqabad, New Delhi. Some serious allegations have been levelled against the management of Concore about its malfunctioning and its anti-labour policy, which has turned this ICD, which is Asia’s largest dry port, a death trap. In the past 10 years, according to the representation, more than 150 labourers and employees have died on duty at the port. And shockingly, no compensation has reportedly been given to the next of kin of the victims till date.

The life of people working or visiting ICD, Tuglaqabad, Delhi, whether it is the Customs/CHA/CHA employees/ importer /exporter/ shipping line/ labourers, are always at stake due to the movement of machines for operating containers and vehicles.

Even though hundreds of people work there at one point of time, there’s no ambulance available nor is there a fire brigade in the vicinity. In case of any emergency, the fire service will have to face an uphill task to reach the shed owing to choked and haphazard parking. It has also been alleged in the memorandum that the management of Concore is hand-in-glove with a contractor, who isn’t allowing the labourers to work there despite winning a case in lower court.

RTT’s call for change – through reports in its past six issues – seems to have

fallen on the deaf ears of the Concore’s management.

Concore, in its website, claims its “mission is to provide efficient and reliable multi-modal logistics support for the country’s exim and domestic trade and commerce”.  It also states that it wants “to ensure utmost customer satisfaction, growing shareholder value, high growth and consolidation of status as market leader”. The claims stand belied by a string of complaints against Concor reaching RTT from CHAs, importers, exporters and employees working there.

The custodian should provide safe, secure and spacious premises for loading/unloading/storing of the cargo. The infrastructure for loading/unloading and storage operations should be designed to handle a minimum traffic of at least 10 TEU per day (two-way).

The premises should be so designed  that there should be a provision for expansion of storage space, office accommodation, handling space, etc. for a period of 10 years.

As per the government guidelines to the custodian, the latter shall also provide sufficient modern handling equipment in operational condition for handling the containers and cargo in the area.

Concor is grossly violating most of these guidelines. The sanitation facility at the ICD is pathetic with no such facility for trade, CHAs and others who visit the ICD daily. Concor is yet to effect any change in their labour policy, thereby leaving the labourers in the lurch in case of any eventuality. The officials never bother to ensure if the containers are kept safely and that if they pose any danger to anybody.

As reported earlier, a labourer, while unloading a container, got seriously injured when a case fell on him, fracturing his shoulder and collar bone, and damaging his spinal cord.

With Concor shirking its responsibility of providing any relief to the labourers, the CHAs and other custom officers collected money for his treatment. This proxy arrangement of labour still continues, with Concor oblivious to bringing about any improvement in the status quo.