Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

Politics in Odisha heated up over the revival of the industrial sector after Orissa High Court ordered the State government to deposit Rs 115 crore with the official liquidator of the State-owned Orissa Textile Mills (OTM) by October 15.

Meanwhile, the employees of the OTM and several other firms which were supposed to receive Rs 115 crore have pinned high hopes for a major change in their lives.

The Odisha government is apparently making efforts to draw the attention of investors from foreign countries to revive the industrial sector in the State. With such plans, the state has initiated special programmes including 'Make In Odisha'. Even Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik himself has met several top-notch investors in Dubai and Mumbai.  

However, on the other hand, the state-owned textile mill, OTM is struggling to revive its identity and gain its existence. 

While former CM Biju Patnaik's efforts helped to establish OTM in Cuttack's Choudwar in 1950, it lost its existence during Naveen's first tenure as CM in 2001.

As per reports, OTM during its initial days exported clothes to different parts of the country as well as overseas. Moreover, over 9000 labourers and employees were employed at OTM which was the only source of income for them. During the time just before its closure, over 3500 families were dependent on OTM. Since the day, the textile mill was closed owing to huge financial losses two decades back, the families associated with OTM are suffering. 

After the State government's several failed promises of reviving OTM, HC's order has come as a relief for all who were supposed to receive the money from OTM. The top court asked the State government to deposit Rs 115 crore by Oct 15 to repay OTM's moneylender, employee salary and several other associated expenses. Though everyone is hopeful about receiving the long-standing pending amount, concerns have been raised over the privatisation of the public sector textile mill. 

"We are hopeful that the government will pay OTM's money and every worker will receive it. Their long wait will end. We are also hopeful that the government will plan for an alternative textile mill for OTM," said Jagannath Beura, a former employee of OTM.

Meanwhile, another former employee said, "We heard that the govt will sell OTM to some private company. We wish the government takes it and does something productive so that our children could get work."

On the other hand, the Opposition has trained guns towards the government over such an approach for OTM. 

"If the Odisha government failed to operate a running mill and couldn't even revive it in all these years, any type of tall claims won't be acceptable," said Suratha Biswal, BJP leader.

Similarly, Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja said, "The government is not doing anything in the State but is touring foreign countries and different states across the country. The government is fooling the citizens by claiming that they are attracting big investors to the state."

However, BJD leader Prabhat Biswal said, "The HC asked the government to pay the amount. But, much before that, the government has already paid Rs 35 crore through IDCO. The remaining Rs 115 crore will be deposited by Oct 15 as mentioned in the affidavit."