BERHAMPUR: Even as agitation by its employees over non-payment of salaries continues, Tata Steel’s ferro chrome plant (FCP) at Chhatrapur within Chamakhandi police limits in Ganjam district is likely to resume production from January next year. Authorities of the steel-making company informed that production of briquettes has already started and the plant’s furnace is ready to be lit.
The FCP was forcibly closed down during May this year by the affected families demanding employment and compensation. However, the plant reopened following the intervention of local administration and police besides assurance of Tata Steel to provide jobs to the affected persons after arrival of investors.
But more trouble was in store for the FCP. After its reopening, production in the plant failed to start as 26 young employees of the FCP launched a dharna near the entry gate alleging non-payment of salaries on August 17 while the authorities were busy repairing the machineries.
The youths had approached Ganjam Collector Prem Chandra Choudhary in this regard. Though the Collector assured to look into the matter, Tata Steel failed to pay their salaries following which they staged the dharna. Meanwhile, Tata Steel filed a case in the court requesting for a permanent injunction against the youths banning them from carrying out any activities within 500 metres of the plant. The youths filed a counter plea stating that their agitation was peaceful and did not obstruct any work. The matter is pending for hearing in January next year.
Tata Steel had proposed to establish a mega steel plant, having 2.5 MT capacity at a cost of `20,000 crores, at Chhatrapur during 1990s. Around 2,970 acres of cultivable land were acquired while 1,100 families of eight villages in Chhatrapur block were evicted.Later, the mega steel plant plan was shelved and Tata Steel proposed to use the acquired land as a special economic zone and to set up a cold rolling plant in 2004. But the proposal too was dropped and the zone was renamed as Industrial Park. The steel company is the anchor tenant of the park.
While no industrial house showed interest to establish their units, Tata Steel decided to operate the FCP in the Industrial Park. Tata Steel authorities said as the FCP was forced to shut down by the agitators, some machineries got damaged. However, repair and replacement work has been completed and most of the agitating employees have joined their duties unconditionally.