Will good sense prevail on Odisha Government?

Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan has aptly sought cooperation of Ratan Tata to solve the impasse.

By A K Sahoo

Bhubaneswar, May 8: The situation at Therubali in Odisha’s Rayagada district is quite volatile. The shutdown of IMFA plant for the past few days has vitiated the entire industry atmosphere not only in the district but entire state.  Production in the Therubali unit has completely stopped, raising uncertainty about the future of at least 1500 employees directly engaged in the plant and thousands others who earn their livelihood by indirect engagements.

While the state government on one hand claims to be championing the cause of industrialisation to generate employment for the youths, – the IMFA episode proves that it is least committed to the purpose.

Utkal Chamber of Commerce and many other industry bodies have disapproved the state government’s silence over the unrest at Therubali. They have also gone on record saying that the “instigated” turmoil at Therubali has already come as a major discouragement for the prospective investors.

Industry experts fear the IMFA episode will have its cascading effects in Rayagada as well as other industrial districts like Sundargarh, Jajpur, Keonjhar, Angul and Dhenkanal. Some people, who claim themselves to be the champion of the causes of the tribal, are indulging in unwarranted agitations and demonstrations.

Nobody questions the legitimate demands of a community that feels neglected or for that matter deprived of its entitlements. In order to get their rights and demands fulfilled, they must resort to appeals to the concerned authorities and establishments. In the present case, the agitation against Imfa was bolt from the blue.  None knew the industry that has been feeding hundreds of people for over six decades will suddenly face an agitation over issues which were never presented before the company authorities or the local and state administration.

Sources said Jitu Jakasika, who is leading the agitation at Therubali, had no connection with the IMFA before. Nor was he any way connected with the employees of the company. Jakasika, a BJD leader smalltime leader, was recently appointed as the member of District Tribal Development Council. He was asked by some “powerful” elements to lead the agitation. Senior BJD leaders of the district had no knowledge about the plan for agitation against IMFA.

Buoyed by the sudden trust he got from the powerful elements that would catapult him to an enviable elevated position, Jitu has been spearheading the movement, – without calculating the loss the local people were going to suffer and the implications of such activities.

As 2019 elections get nearer, many other industries like JK Paper Mills, Utkal Alumina International Limited, Nalco alumina refinery at Damonjodi and Vedanta alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Rayagada and adjoining Kalahandi and Koraput district are apprehending similar unexpected, sudden agitations.

The Odisha government must not forget that it has lost big industry projects proposed by steel behemoths like Posco and ArcellorMittal. Many others who signed memorandum of understanding with the state government for steel and power projects have not set up their industries till yet because lack of faith and confidence in the support base of the administration in the pre- and post project implementation periods.

It’s time, good sense prevailed on the state government and it took the right initiative to set the things right.

Union petroleum and natural gas minister has aptly urged the doyen of Indian industry Ratan Tata to take up the Imfa matter with the Odisha government for early resolution of the issue for the good of the employees, the local people, industrial classes and last but not the least the state government.

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