Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Choudwar, Feb 18:
Former MP and chairman of Ama Odisha Party Soumya Ranjan Patnaik has come down heavily on the anti-people policy of Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys (IMFA) Ltd.
Addressing a public meeting organized by the Shramik Parivar Yuvak Sangh at Nuasahi here on Monday, Patnaik said Choudwar, which has the distinction of being the first industrial hub of Odisha, has been steadily losing its identity over the years following the closure of several industrial units, including two major industries like the Odisha Textiles Mill (OTM) and Ballarpur Paper Mill (BPM).
“The people here are not opposed to any industry. But what they have been protesting against is the highhanded attitude of IMFA, which has neither provided any jobs to the local people and nor has taken any steps for the rehabilitation of the slum dwellers in the locality. Besides, severe pollution from its plant has made the life of the people of Choudwar miserable,” he said.
Apart from the pollution that has caused serious health hazards in the locality, this industrial town is now facing an acute shortage of drinking water as IMFA has been drawing water from Mahanadi and Birupa rivers for use in its plant, Patnaik said, adding that Choudwar would be destroyed if the plant is run in this manner.
Panda (IMFA) company, which has earned thousands of crores by looting land, water and mines, is not bothered about the plight of the daily wage labourers, the Ama Odisha founder said. “The present government in the state has been encouraging the industrialists to loot forests and mines,” he added.
Alleging that IMFA had illegally taken possession of about 231 acres of government land, Patnaik said the company has also registered a portion of land belonging to Kalinga Public School in its name with the connivance of the government machinery.
Patnaik said that the attempt by the company to lure local youth with its black money would never succeed if the people of Choudwar oppose the move unitedly.
“The time has come for a change. A massive public agitation against IMFA would be held at Choudwar in the coming days. If the company does not invite the Sangh for a discussion on issues relating to pollution, employment of local youths and rehabilitation of slum dwellers by March 5 next, the situation could turn explosive in future”, Patnaik warned.
Among others, trade union leader Jayant Das, working president of Shramik Parivar Yuvak Sangh Kanhu Charan Mohanty, vice president Rahas Bihari Rath, general secretary Ramakant Parida, former chairman of Choudwar block Prahllad Swain, vice president of Kalinga Public School Guardians’ Forum Jayakishore Prasad Singh and secretary Bijan Singh were present at the meeting.