Actions belying Odisha government’s industrial development narrative

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik did road shows across the country to showcase investment potential and business-friendly ecosystem in the State with an aim to attract more and more investors to take part in the ‘Make in Odisha Conclave.’ However, several episodes of industries being harassed and cornered have raised serious doubts over the narrative of industrial development and growth that is being tendered by the State government.

The involvement of a BJD MLA from Sukinda in the labour union protest at the Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys Limited’s (IMFA) chromite mines and his alleged plot to shut the operations exposes the ruling-BJD’s attitude towards industries in the State.

After creating disturbances at the Therubali plant of the IMFA in Rayagada, the sponsored agitation at Kaliapani in Jajpur has exposed the malicious intentions to shut down the mines at Sukinda and Mahagiri.

While the IMFA authorities have already accepted most of the demands from the eight-point charter submitted by the workers and have been urging for a meeting to discuss other demands, BJD’s local MLA Pritiranjan Ghadai, who is the president of the chromite labour union in Sukinda, is shying away from discussions.

What is interesting here is the fact that while the accident which triggered the protest occurred at one mine, agitators have shut IMFA’s both the mines.

Meanwhile, IMFA authorities have once again written to the union for an amicable solution to the issue.

“We have received a letter from IMFA today for discussions. Once our MLA is available in the next couple of days, we will hold discussions,” said Narayan Chandra Dhir, general secretary Sukinda chromite labour union.

“We have taken all precautionary measures considering the safety at the mines. We are trying our best to talk to the leader of the union and resolve the issue,” said Sudhanshu Patni, vice-president IMFA (Mining).

On the other hand, the deputy director of Mines, Sukinda, while refusing to face the camera, said all the facilities are adequate at the mines.

“We carried out an inspection of the working processes at the mines and found everything alright. Why should we interfere in the dispute between the union and the management? We have no role to play,” said Prabhat Kumar Ojha, Deputy Director (in-charge) Mines, Jajpur Road.

Meanwhile, Odisha Congress chief, Niranjan Patnaik said that the State government is trying to include politics in everything. At a time when the industries which are working should be encouraged, such things (sponsored agitations) are unfortunate, he added.

Earlier, a tribal leader Jitu Jakasika was roped in to intensify agitation at the Therubali plant and now the role of a BJD MLA in the agitation at Sukinda mines has raised serious questions over Odisha government’s intentions of ensuring a business-friendly climate in the State.

Despite several attempts, MLA Ghadai could not be reached for comments.