Thursday, July 23, 2009

Maoist loot hits explosive unit

TNN 23 July 2009, 11:00pm IST

ROURKELA: The restriction on transportation of explosives by Gulf Oil Corporation Limited has come as a big jolt to the unit here. The curb would be
on till proper security can be provided to the transporting vehicles because Maoists recently looted 8.3 tonnes of explosives and abducted and killed sub-inspector Ajit Bardhan.

On the flip side, the restriction has put a full stop on production because the unit does not have storage space and in turn is laying off of its workers.

The sudden stop to dispatches of explosives has also given rise to problems for hundreds of mining units of Sundargarh and Keonjhar districts and it threatens to affect sponge iron and steel plants.

The Citu has appealed to chief minister Naveen Pattnaik to provide adequate security so that production resumes soon. In a meeting on Wednesday, the Citu-affiliated IDL Workers Union condemned the decision of the police here.

"It is the duty of police to provide proper security," general secretary of Citu Bishnu Mohanty said.

"As many as 1,100 workers of GOCL have lost their livelihood due to sudden closure of the factory on the plea that there is no space to store the explosives," the union leader added.

"The Citu has drawn the attention of the chief minister and expects an immediate response from him," Mohanty said. "Closure of this factory will not only jeopardize the future of thousands of families but also that of the mining and steel industry," Mohanty said.

Around 65,000 metric tonnes of explosives is utilized by the mining industry in the state. Out of which GOCL, Rourkela, provides about 18,000 metric tonnes. The factory is a major supplier of explosives to the units in Sundargarh and Keonjhar districts.

Defending the company's decision, AGM of GOCL, Rourkela, P C Pradhan said, "Since storing of explosives is not possible with us, we have no option but to close our unit. We had to lay off workers because the unit has stopped production for an indefinite period," Pradhan said.

"With explosive trucks being repeatedly looted by Maoists, we cannot allow their plying without proper security arrangements. So we have instructed GOCL to stop transportation of explosives till the proper security is arranged," inspector general of police (western range) Pranabindu Acharya said. But the possibility of providing security to hundreds of explosive-laden trucks on this route remains doubtful. "We expect the company to make security arrangements in each truck backed by our strategic approval," Acharya said.

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