Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 29:
Terming the truckers’ strike in Sundargarh and Keonjhar as “illegal”, the Odisha government has imposed Odisha Essential Services (Maintenance) Act (ESMA), 1988 for six months impacting the production and despatch of minerals in the region, government sources said today.
Home department special secretary Lalit Das informed media persons about the government decision today.
According to sources, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has given approval to the state Mines and Steel department’s recommendation to invoke ESMA on the truckers’ agitation. Following this, the Home department would issue a formal notification in this regard shortly.
The Home department has been asked to initiate necessary action in this regard, sources said.
Truck and tipper operators in Sundargarh and Keonjhar districts have been on a strike since July 20 over a dispute over freight charges between vehicle operators and transporters of various sponge iron industries and mines paralysing mineral transport in the entire iron ore bearing area in the state.
As many as 16 truck and tipper owners’ associations in Koida and Joda mining circles of Sundargarh and Keonjhar districts have been on strike since last 10 days.
The strike has resulted in loss of revenue to the exchequer to the tune of crores. The strike has hit iron ore despatches by about 2, 00, 000 tonne per day, which it is causing a revenue loss of Rs 12 crore a day to the state exchequer by way of royalty, sources added.
Production in three major pellet plants – Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) plant at Barbil, Brahmani River Pellets Limited (BRPL) and Aryan Pellets – has come to a standstill due to the absence of raw material supply as a result of the strike.
Around 30,000 trucks and tippers in Sundargarh and Keonjhar have gone off the roads in protest against the state government’s proposed move to fix a ceiling on transport cost and award of transportation contracts through the e-tendering process.