Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nalco to resume normal bauxite output

Dillip Satapathy / Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar May 12, 2009, 0:23 IST

The Naxal hit Panchpatmali mines of National Aluminium Company (Nalco) is likely to resume normal production of bauxite from tomorrow with the scared workers agreeing to work in the mines after the sunset.

Nalco’s average bauxite production Panchapatmali mines in Korpaut district of Orissa had dropped from 14,000 tonnes per day to about 9,000 tonnes per day as the mine workers were reluctant to carry out mining after 5 pm in the aftermath of the Naxalite attack on April 12 which claimed the lives of 10 CISF jawans. The B-shift for the mine employees which was from 2 pm to 10 pm was done away with by Nalco in view of the safety concerns of the workers and the mine workers were now engaged in two shifts- the A shift from 6 am to 2 pm and the general shift from 8 am to 5 pm.

The 35 per cent drop in its bauxite production in the mines had raised the prospect of commensurate cut in alumina production in the company’s 15.75 lakh tonne per annum refinery at Damanjodi where the normal 30-day bauxite stock was depleting alarmingly.

Anticipating an imminent crisis in the operation of the company, the Union mines ministry had convened a high level meeting of the company officials at New Delhi recently where it gave the responsibility of supervising security at the mines and convincing the workers to resume normal production to BL Bagra, the finance director of the company. Earlier these issues were being looked after by Joy Vergese, the director, personnel and administration.

Sources said, Bagra and director production, AK Sharma camped at Panchpatmali mines for last four days and held discussions with various workers/employees union active there. The workers demand mainly pertained to enhancement of security, hike in special allowance and transfer of the mine workers to the different units of the company. The senior company officials reportedly agreed to look into the demands favourably and place it before the appropriate authority for approval.

Following their assurance, the workers gave their verbal commitment to work in the B-shift from tomorrow and accordingly the company has issued the notice for start of the evening shift.

Meanwhile, sources said, as an interim measures, the security has been strengthened at the mines with deployment of more CISF personnel and increasing the frequency of patrolling, particularly after sunset to bring confidence among the employees. It may be noted Nalco, which has a total of 417 CISF personnel posted at mining and refinery complex, proposes to increase the strength to 682. The company is also mulling to cover its mines workers under a group insurance scheme and carve out an exclusive security department within its mines and alumina refinery complex which would monitor the functioning of the CISF forces.

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