Saturday, August 15, 2009

Nalco mines get fresh Naxal threat

Dilip Satapathy / Bhubaneswar August 12, 2009, 0:54 IST



Public sector National Aluminium Company (Nalco) has come under fresh threat of Naxal attack with the rebels issuing an ultimatum to the company authorities to fulfil their certain demands relating to the contract labourers and peripheral development.




The threat has come barely four months after the daring attack on the Nalco’s Panchpatmali bauxite mines in Koraput that claimed the lives of 10 Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel.

According to sources, in a letter addressed to the top brass of the company’s refinery and mines complex at Damanjodi, the rebels have taken exception to the failure of the company to regularise the services of all contract labourers and undertake adequate peripheral development work in the vicinity of the mines area. The one-page letter, written in Telugu, gives one month to the company to comply with their demand for regularisation of the jobs of contract labourers and also inform the public about the peripheral development work being undertaken for the villagers near the mines.

Nalco has about 2,000 contract labours in its Damanjodi complex, of which 300 are engaged in mining activity.

The latter has warned of attack on the company facilities by the rebels, if Nalco management fail to meet their demands.

Interestingly, the rebels have expressed their willingness to hold discussion with Nalco authorities on these issues if the company showed willingness towards solving the problems of the locals.

Meanwhile, some officials of the company doubt the veracity of the letter, saying its “tone and tenure”, particularly relating to offer for holding talks by the ultras who mostly prefer to remain underground, did not match with the style of functioning of the naxals.

They are of the view that it (the letter) may be just the handiwork of some contract labourers, who have been demanding regularisation of their jobs for some time.

The development has shaken the officials of Nalco’s refinery and mines complex at Damanjodi which was limping back to normalcy after the April 12 attack by the naxals.

“After receiving the letter three days back, we are taking all measures to step up the security of the mines area. We have also intimated the district administration including the district collector and superintendent of police (SP) about the development”, said senior official of the company.

When contacted the Koraput SP, Deepak Kumar, however, said, “no one from the company has either met or spoken to him yet on the naxalite threat to the refinery and mines complex. I have come to know from some local sources about the development, which is a matter of concern”.

It may be noted, after the April 12 attack on the company’s Panchpatmali bauxite mines, the company had taken several steps for upgrade of security at the mines which included increase in the strength of CISF personnel deployed at the mines from 89 to 197 jawans and fortification of the mines area. In addition the company had drastically reduced the storage of explosives at the magazine house to the barest minimum of about 4-5 days consumption.

The security in the mines is mostly looked after by the CISF in co-ordination with the district administration and state police.

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