Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Saturday urged his cabinet colleagues Prahlad Joshi and Bhupender Yadav to ensure payment of better wages and benefits to contract labourers working at coal mines of NALCO and NTPC in Odisha's Angul district.

The labourers should get the wages as per the recommendations of the Central Advisory Contract Law Board (CACLB), Pradhan said in a letter to the Union Minister of Coal and Mines, Joshi and Labour & Employment Minister, Yadav.

Engagement of contract labourers in coal mines has been prohibited under Section 10 of the Contract Labour (regulation and Abolition) Act 1970. However, the Section 31 of the Act provides for exemption in special cases subject to prescribed conditions and restrictions, he said.

Taking the route, industries engaged in coal mining in Angul district have been taking exemptions under such provisions to employ contract labour, Pradhan said.

He pointed out that National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has waived off the applicability of the Section-10 for the coal mining blocks of NTPC for a period of 5 years while National Aluminium Company Ltd (NALCO) has also applied for exemption through the Ministry of Mines.

"Some contractors are denying payment of high powered committee recommended wages and benefits to their workers engaged in coal mines of NALCO. This is a matter of grave concern as it goes against the spirit of labour welfare espoused by the Government of India," said the Education Minister.

He requested the Union Ministers to intervene in the matter and ensure payment of wages to the coal mines labourers as per the recommendations of CACLB.