Jajpur: Six months after lying defunct, the state-owned ferrochrome and alloys plant at Jajpur Road has become fully functional.
The plant IDCOL Ferro Chrome and Alloys Ltd is a state government undertaking.
However, the reopening of the plant Tuesday brought little cheers for the workers community as some labourers alleged that the consultancy agencies which have been asked to engage labourers are meting out preferential treatment to old workers of the plant and instead appointing new persons in place.
What is worrisome is that the plant authorities have engaged less than 200 labourers while more than 400 labourers lost their jobs after the closure of the plant, sources said.
Reports said that the authorities have engaged 59 labourers in blast furnace site and 80 in maintenance site. This has sparked resentment among the labourers as observers claimed that this might snowball into a major agitation if not addressed at the earliest.
The authorities decided to close down the plant as the selling price of hydrocarbon ferrochrome produced in the plant was much less than the actual manufacturing cost, May 29 this year. Accordingly, the authorities closed down the two furnaces of the plant from June 1 which rendered over 400 workers jobless.
The authorities even closed down its captive mines at Talangi in Kaliapani under Sukinda block November 11, 2018 after issuing three months notice to the labourers over a complaint by the labour outfit. As a result, the authorities had to spend Rs 28,000 more in chrome ores for producing one tonne of hydrocarbon ferrochrome.
The closure of the plant had spread shockwaves in the area as it rendered many persons jobless. The market price of ferrochrome has fallen thrice during the last one month. The price for a tonne of ferrochrome has fallen from Rs 67,000 to Rs 65,000 and then to Rs 62,000. Three days back the price has again fallen to Rs 61,000.
The plant will be getting only Rs 59,000 which is its actual selling price after deducting the transportation cost.
The IDCOL authorities were not interested to run the plant in such an uneconomical situation but were forced to reopen it for the sake of labourers. The closure of the plant had sparked sharp unrest in the area.
The company is now left with only 4-5,000 tonne of iron ores which can last only for four to five months. This is because two of its blast furnaces produce 60 MT of ferrochrome daily for which 150 tonnes of chrome ore is required on daily basis.
A trade union leader Dushmant Rout alleged that the plant authorities instead of engaging the labourers previously working in the plant are providing employment to those who will remain loyal to them and toe their line.
He added that the plant authorities even violated the norms in tender process and have declared labourers having more than 20 years of experience as unskilled labourers by paying them daily wage of less than Rs 300. Rout has demanded the intervention of Chief Minister and 5T secretary to unravel the past scams and ensure measures to run the plant successfully.
When contacted MD Bira Kishore Sahu of the plant said that five consultancy agencies have been asked to provide labourers and it is for them to engage any person they deem fit. Moreover, steps will be taken in coming days to make the plant fully operational.