Bhubaneswar: The cold storage operators from the state went on a state-wise strike from Thursday to press for their revival package as the Assembly sessions started Wednesday. The cold storage operators also protested at the PMG Square demanding assistance.
The operators claim that the Potato Mission of the state government has failed badly on the ground due to which the operators are suffering in silence. The strike has been called under the banner of Odisha Cold Storage Association. The association claimed that earlier their meeting with the government officials has beenfutile as their demands have never been met.
The operators have been saying that most of the cold storage units in the state are suffering due to lack of government support and many of them are on the verge of collapse. A statement from the Cold Storage Association of Odisha said, “Government created cold storages inviting private players in order to provide storage infrastructure to the potato growers, but hardly took any initiative to encourage potato cultivation. This lead to unavailability of feed stock for cold storages, under utilization of capacity and huge losses. Almost all cold storages are sick units and are on the brink of closure.”
The cold storage owners claim that cold storages of northern, western and southern districts have the potential of storing forest produces mainly Mohua flower but due to application of excise conditions this has not been possible. They claim that some states have allowed usage of such cold storages for forest produce.
The owners, in the memorandum submitted to the chief minister, claim that the whole sector has been suffering from issues like scarcity of local produce (mainly potatoes), huge operating losses due to non utilisation of capacity, high investment cost and higher interest burden. They also claim that costs are often escalated due to high transportation cost from West Bengal.
The cold storages are demanding revival packages for the sick units. The operators demanded credit linkage at lower rates, warehouse receipt financing, electricity subsidy at 50 per cent to all cold storages, storage rental subsidy and other support.