ROURKELA: The ongoing truckers’ strike that entered fifth day on Friday, has brought mineral transportation in Sundargarh and Keonjhar districts to a grinding halt, dealing a deadly blow to the State Government’s revenue generation and local employment.
Members of 16 truck and tipper owners associations of both the mineral-rich districts are on strike over freight fixation disputes.
Owing to the stand-off, a large number of workers of the transport sector in the two districts are sitting idle and mining operation has slowed down in the absence of mineral dispatch.
Around 10,000 tippers and trucks in Sundargarh and 18,000 heavy transport vehicles in Keonjhar are off the road and 50,000 drivers and helpers rendered jobless due to the strike.
Joda Deputy Director of Mines (DDM) SK Nayak said daily dispatch of minerals of one lakh tonne by road is being affected and in last five days, Government has suffered revenue loss to the tune of over `30 crore. His Koida counterpart, Salil Behera said daily dispatch of 40,000 tonnes of minerals has been stopped and the Government revenue loss is over `11 crores.
National CITU vice-president Bishnu Mohanty said that loading and unloading have also been badly affected as 60,000 transport sector workers at different railway sidings and mines points - who are engaged in loading and unloading - have stopped work. He demanded immediate intervention of the State Government to sort out the freight issues.
Convener of truck and tipper owners’ associations of the two districts, Bhimsen Choudhary said Government should either come out with fresh freight rates for mineral transportation or allow the old freight rates to continue till notification of new fare rates.
The agitation has also hit the sponge iron units in both the districts. Former president of Odisha Sponge Iron Manufacturing Association (OSIMA) GS Agarwal said 45 sponge iron plants in Sundargarh and 10 in Keonjhar are facing dual crisis. “Iron ore stock of the industries are exhausting fast. Price of finished sponge iron products crashed to `13,500 from `15,000 per tonne. If the industries continue to procure iron ore at a higher price, they would face loss and if they stop production, the industries will have to incur fixed expenditure,” he said.