ISRO vehicle carrying critical equipment stopped by trade unions and locals

A vehicle carrying critical equipment for Vikram Sarabhai Space Research Centre in Kerala was stopped by trade unions and locals. They have demanded an unloading fee (nookku kooli – notional wages or union mamool) of Rs. 2,000/- per tonne totaling Rs.10.00 lakhs.

Protesters alleged that the job guarantee promise made during the land acquisition for VSSC had not yet been kept. There was a dispute and intensify between the police and protesters. Though discussions were held between the locals, the parish vicar and the police to resolve the issue, it was not resolved.

According to local sources, the nooku kooli was demanded by asked by believers of a church. The padres were telling, as VSSC is under the geographical limit of the church. 2000/- should be given per ton of equipment, which amounts to Rs.10 lakhs.

Once upon a time a church was there ,but the land was acquired for VSSC. It is part of ISRO/VSSC now. The family members of the church were permitted to visit the church once in a year with the permission of authorities.

Nookku kooli or notional wages had become a serious issue in Kerala with even those shifting houses were forced to pay huge amounts to trade unions. In 2017, the Kerala High Court intervened and ordered the state government to clamp down and arrest those who demand nookku kooli.

Actor Sudheer Karamana became a victim of this pernicious practice when he had to shell down Rs.25,000 to trade unions while shifting his house. He paid but made an issue of it. When the news became public, trade unions returned the money. People shifting houses do discreetly and secretly lest they be forced to pay nookku kooli.

The government of Kerala had banned the practice of nookku kooli in 2018 but the fact that a prestigious organization like ISRO had fallen victim to it shows that the practice still persists.