Truckers in Odisha seek freight rate hike, chromite supply hit
Ferro alloy industries struggle with low stock of raw materials
JAJPUR: Dispatch of chromite from Kaliapani in Sukinda chromite valley to ferro alloy industries across the country has come to a standstill for the last seven days, thanks to the strike by local truck owners over hike in freight rate. Due to the non-cooperation of truck owners who are insisting on 20 per cent hike in freight charges, the supply has suffered a massive hit.
Sukinda valley has 97 per cent of the total chromite reserve of Asia. Almost all the ferro alloy industries of India depend on Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), Tata Steel Mining Limited, Facor-Vedanta and Balasore Alloys situated in Sukinda valley for the ore.
On an average, around 4,00,000 tonne of chromium ore is dispatched from Sukinda to various industries across the country per month. However, the strike by truckers has given rise to an unprecedented crisis as ferro alloy and stainless steel industries are struggling with low stock of raw materials. The supply of chromite has been stopped since April 21.
Expressing their displeasure over the situation, industry heads said it is surprising that neither the Jajpur administration nor the State government is yet to take any action against the truckers. While the industries are bleeding and incurring losses due to the stoppage of chromite dispatch, the strike has also resulted in substantial loss of revenue to the State exchequer.
Sources said the local truck owners’ association was dissolved by the administration two years back. But now, it has again become active with the backing of political heavyweights. For a distance of 35 km from Kaliapani to Kalinga Nagar, the freight rate including loading has been fixed at over `800 per tonne whereas it should have been `630.50 per tonne as per the government notification.
The industries are already paying 40 per cent higher than the government notified rate to the truckers. Another 20 per cent hike in the freight rate as demanded by the truck owners’ association is illegitimate and unreasonable, said president of Kalinga Nagar Industries Association PL Kandoi.
“The strike by truckers engaged in chromite transportation from the mines has resulted in depletion of stock of ferro chrome industries and some have been forced to close down their blast furnaces. If the crisis continues for more days, the industries will be forced to shut down completely. We appeal to the government to sort out the issue at earliest to save the industries,” Kandoi added.