Closed Stone Crusher Units leave Workers High And Dry In Odisha

Khurda: Although crackdowns by the Special Task Force (STF) of Odisha Crime Branch on illegal stone crusher units in Khurda district has managed to curb unlawful mining in the region, it has severely hit the livelihood of thousands of workers.

According to sources, unauthorised extraction of granite stone from quarries under the jurisdiction of Khurda district authorities and Puri Shree Jagannath Temple Administration was rampant in the district but repeated raids by the STF since June this year have put a check on the illegal activity.

However, more than 40,000 workers have lost their livelihood while stone crusher unit owners are also staring at uncertain future after 400 stone crusher units were shut down in the past five months.

“If the government formally declares that the crusher units are henceforth completely closed, the crusher unit owners will look for alternative ways to earn money. As the government is not taking any decision, our fate hangs in balance,” said Ajay Kumar Samantaray, vice-president, crusher association.

Not only setback to livelihood, the closure of stone crusher units has also resulted in shortage of raw materials affecting construction works.

The situation has led to dearth of stone chips, boulder, metals used in the construction works in both private and government sectors. Apart from builders who are now forced to procure raw materials from suppliers based in Chandikhol and Jajpur area by paying high price, public have also been hit.

“Construction works have been badly hampered due to closure of the stone crusher units. Now labour classes are not getting employment which has affected their livelihood,” Prafulla Kumar Jagdev, a local resident of Khurda said.

Speaking on the issue, Khurda collector Sitansu Rout said, “The auction process of 39 stone quarries has been completed and they will start commence operations soon. Once the quarries become functional, sufficient raw materials will be available.”