Government steps in to clear Orind mess
The State Government’s initiative to restart the defunct refractory plant of Orind, now Shaswat International Ltd (SIL), at Lathikata has raised hope of its 750-odd workers who are sitting idle. But, sorting out the Orind mess is not going to be an easy task.
Chief Secretary JK Mohapatra last week convened a high-level meeting in presence of representative of SIL S Bhadra and Commerce and Transport Minister Subrat Tarai in Bhubaneswar where it was hinted that Managing Director of Odisha Stevedores Ltd (OSL) Mahimanand Mishra would acquire and re-run the plant. Following the meeting, CITU suspended its 482-day-old agitation in Bhubaneswar.
The Orind management owes `22 crore to Bank of Baroda and `14 crores to United Bank of India (UBI), sources said.
Till last year, additional internal and external liabilities including workers’ dues stood at above `120 crore. Approached by the Bombay branch of UBI, the Bombay High Court in 2012 had appointed an official liquidator for settlement of Orind’s liabilities.
National vice-president of CITU Bishnu Mohanty said those present in the meeting decided to talk to lending bankers and ensure plant’s take over by a new management. On legal complications, Mohanty said it would be the responsibility of the Government.
Sources said it remains to be seen if OSL agrees to pump in such a large amount of money. Bhusan Power and Steel had earlier expressed interest in taking over the plant, but it backed out later.
Moreover, of the total 170 acres in possession of Orind plant, lease deed for 125 acres was prepared in 1953 but, for rest 45 acres, conveyance deed was never made. Hence, transfer of Orind’s land to OSL would not be legally easy.
This apart, absconding Orind Chairman Ravin Jhunjhunwala is accused of collecting large amount of money from three corporate houses against plant’s land.
President of Orind’s recognised union Lathikata Mazdoor Union (LMU) Pravat Mishra expressed doubt about ultimate result of the Government initiative. Sources also alleged that the latest initiative is a political move to curb the agitation over Orind.