IMFA workers protest mining ban

Cuttack: Hundreds of workers staged a dharna in front of the plant of India Metals and Ferro Alloys (IMFA) at Choudwar in Cuttack protesting the order of the Odisha Pollution Control Board to ban mining at the Mahagiri and Sukinda Chromite mines of the company.

Ban on mining by IMFA, the only large scale industry in Choudwar Industrial Area, will affect lives of 26,000 workers directly and nearly 20,000 people indirectly. The agitating workers demanded that the company should be immediately permitted to resume mining.

Labour representatives sent a letter mentioning their demands to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and also apprised Cuttack-Choudwar MLA Prabhat Biswal and Cuttack Collector about their demands.

Talking to OTV, a protesting worker Haribandhu Jena said, “Our Choudwar plant depends on the Chromite mines, but due to absence of raw material the plant is now closed and very soon two other units are going to face the same fate. It will have an adverse impact on us as we will be the first to lose our livelihood.”

Another labourer Sushant Kumar Naik said, “We have requested the Chief Minister to help us and have faith on him that he will understand our problem.”

On the other hand Special Secretary, Forest and Environment Department, Debidutta Biswal, said it is an old issue and IMFA had been sent a show cause notice earlier. As no reply was received, the step was taken, he added.

IMFA has filed a petition over the ban order in the Orissa High Court. As the case is sub-judice, IMFA authorities declined to comment on it.