By BS Reporter
Worried over the possible shutdown of Vedanta Aluminium Ltd’s (VAL) one million tonne alumina refinery at Lanjigarh due to non-availability of bauxite, locals and employees of the company have approached the Kalahandi district administration to ensure bauxite supplies for the plant.
They claimed that Vedanta’s refinery has provided employment to over 10,000 people since 2004 and was the lone major industry in the poverty stricken district.
“Due to non-availability of bauxite, we have been hearing that the plant might be shut down. If the Odisha government, in spite of having large deposits of bauxite, is not able to supply the same to Vedanta, we feel it is a misfortune. The closure of the plant might also shatter the vision of former Odisha chief minister Biju Patnaik who is widely regarded as the pioneer of industrialisation,” locals of Lanjigarh and VAL employees stated in a memorandum submitted to the Kalahandi collector.
“If Vedanta leaves the region, it will again plunge into poverty as all the amenities being provided by the company will vanish. We feel that the recently set up Lanjigarh Product Area Development Foundation (LPADF) might also become defunct,” the letter stated.
Hundreds of company employees, project affected people and displaced persons staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the Kalahandi collector’s office.
Company authorities are also frustrated over the state government’s indifference to VAL’s refinery that is starving of bauxite.
“After serving the closure notice on September 6, we have not received any response from the state government. VAL had even filed 26 applications with the state government, seeking alternative bauxite mines to run its refinery but even on this count, the state government has not responded. Now, there is public agitation at the plant site and people have approached the Kalahandi district administration,” said Mukesh Kumar, president and chief operating officer, VAL.
Kumar ruled out immediate possibility of sourcing bauxite from Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) as the PSU was yet to come out with a tender for selling the raw material.
VAL, a subsidiary of London-listed metals and mining major Vedanta Resources Plc was struggling to keep its refinery operations afloat due to acute shortage of bauxite. Since
August this year, the company’s refinery ran at 40-50 per cent capacity amid uncertain raw material supplies. The company had served a three-month closure notice to the Odisha government in accordance with the Industrial Disputes Act.