BALASORE: The fate of around 4,000 workers and employees of Birla Tyres hangs in balance with the Orissa High Court staying the expansion of its
radial tyre unit on the plant premises.
The order came as a bolt from the blue for the Balasore-based tyre-manufacturing unit as its production has already been stopped for the last 42 days over labour unrest.
The HC, however, imposed the restriction last week after disposing of a PIL, which had sought judicial intervention against air and water pollution caused by the existing plant to the surrounding area. The petitioners led by Harinarayan Nayak had alleged that the expansion work was on without the consent of Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB). The HC has also ordered to stop the production in the existing factory as no clearance had been obtained for 2011-2012 from the OSPCB for violation of the Air and Water Pollution Act and the Factories Act.
Even as the HC allowed the company authorities to apply for modification of the order after compliance of all the conditions laid down by the Board, the workers feared for the worse as the factory adopted the ‘no work no pay’ rule. Production has been stopped since February 22 as the workers are on strike over delay in wage settlement. The workers are scared as several rounds of talks among the plant management, trade union leaders and labour officials for the wage settlement have failed.
A worker, Ananta Barik, said: “We are not sure if the plant will function. As this is my only source of livelihood I fear for my family.”
Meanwhile, the plant management has urged the workers to cooperate for reaching at a settlement citing that the company had incurred a loss of over ` 144 crore during 2010-11 and now it has lost over Rs 50 crore as the production has stopped.
A plant official said the company would comply with the HC order and obtain a clearance from the OSPCB. “Besides, we are also trying to complete the agreement at the earliest,” he added.