Monday, April 27, 2009

Nalco blames CISF intelligence failure for mines attack

27 Apr 2009, 2023 hrs IST, Rakhi Mazumdar, ET Bureau

KOLKATA: The country’s largest aluminium producer, National Aluminium Co (Nalco), has claimed it was critical lack of intelligence and surveillance
failure that led to the recent Maoist strikes at its bauxite mines in Damanjodi, Orissa.

What is even more shocking is that the attack appears to have been perpetrated with connivance of casual workers employed at the mines. This comes at a time when union mines ministry has initiated a detailed investigation to ascertain Nalco’s response to various intelligence inputs on a possible attack.

A top Nalco official who did not wish to be named told ET: "We did not receive any intelligence report at the director or CMD-level about the attack. A Naxalite threat of this scale should have been intimated by the CISF directly to the company’s top brass and not merely at the site. With more preparedness on the CISF’s part, the whole incident could perhaps have been thwarted."
Incidentally, the company spends over Rs 20 crore annually to maintain a 415-strong CISF security contingent headed by a commandant at its mines and refinery at Damanjodi.

Though CISF forces battled the intruders, they lost 10 men, as a result. While Nalco will bear the entire amount of compensation of Rs 10 lakh per head, its employees are also planning to donate a day’s salary to families of CISF jawans who died during the attack.

"The main objective of the attack was an attempt by the Maoists to get publicity through a calculated but symbolic attack on a navratna PSU. This is in contrast to popular perception that the Maoists had targetted the mines to mainly grab arms, ammunition and explosives," the source said.

At Panchpatmali Bauxite Mines in Damanjodi, the most sensitive point is the Magazine House, where nearly 50 tonnes of explosives used for mining are stored. The Magazine is located in a secluded spot, some 3 km from the Mines Main Gate. Considering its vulnerability, the Magazine House has a 22 strong team CISF team guarding it on a 24 X 7 basis.

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