Protests erupt again at IMFA plant in Rayagada

Rayagada: Situation at the Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys Ltd (IMFA) plant at Therubali in Rayagada heated up yet again after local tribals today staged protest alleging non-fulfillment of promises by plant authorities.

The protestors reached the plant at 8 am and locked the main gate as a mark of protest against authorities for not fulfilling their demand. They warned to continue the protest indefinitely if their concerns are not immediately addressed. The plant authorities on the other suspect ill-intention behind the protests as already steps are being taken regarding their demands.

“The authorities promised to fulfill our demands within 30 days but 45 days have already passed and nothing has been done yet. We do not like this lingering. The claims by authorities that the process has begun is mere eyewash and we are not convinced with presenting of the status report to the collector,” said Jitu Jakasika  adding that the protests are being carried in a democratic and peaceful manner.

“When we reached for work today, the protestors stopped us and did not let us inside. These kind of protests are affecting the workers and their families ,”said Paradip Mishra, IMFA workers union President.

“It is sad to see the protestors back. We had started the process of fulfilling the demand of the locals immediately after the tripartite meeting. The ambulance has already been booked and would be reaching next month. The required lighting equipment are in place and will be installed in villages soon after a discussion with the respective sarpanchs. The demand for ladies toilet has also been taken care of. We will take some more time to comply with all demands, said IMFA authorities.

Reacting to the repeated protests at the plant, OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik said, “Baijayant Babu or IMFA might not be with us but IMFA is a well established company in Odisha. If the government tries to shut down factories then how would there be growth in the industrial establishments? Since Baijayant Panda is in politics the incident might have been due to political intolerance,” Patnaik said in reaction to the latest unrest at the company’s plant in Therubali.

“If the locals have some demands and concerns, then they should know that a committee has been set up headed by the Collector to oversee the affairs. But without waiting for the report of the Collector, the move to create unrest at the plant does not send a good sign,” Patnaik said.

Senior BJP leader, Jayram Pangi on the other hand stated that, “The protests at IMFA are politically motivated and being done at the behest of Odisha government.”

BJD spokesperson, Rabi Nanda said, “The demands of tribals are genuine and resentment among them will grow if their demands are not fulfilled.”

Earlier on April 23, protestors began a demonstration in front of the plant demanding fulfillment of their nine-point charter of demands. However the issue snowballed into a major controversy as a consensus could not be reached between the company officials and the demonstrators.

After 18 days of unrest, the agitators withdrew following a tripartite meeting between the protestors, company officials and the  district administration.

“We have deployed one platoon of police force to maintain law and order,” said Rayagada SDPO, Rajkishore Das.