Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada: Under the Chairmanship of Sri T Apang Ao, IAS, Revenue Divisional Commissioner(RDC), the fifth Rehabilitation and Peripheral Development Advisory Committee (RPDAC) meeting was held in DRDA conference Hall. Rayagada in the presence of Jhinna Hikaka, MP, Koraput, Sri N Bhaskar rao, Rajya Sabha MP, Sri Lal Bihari Himirika, MLA-Rayagada and District Planning Board Chairman, Sri Purushottam Gomango, Zilla Parishad Chairman, Rayagada, Collector, Sub-Collector, Rayagada, PA-ITDA, Rayagada, SP & other district level officials.
Though the RPDAC meeting for Utkal Alumina International Ltd(UAIL) at Tikiri was held after a long span of seven years since the last meeting was held on 18-02-2010, several important resolutions were passed like creation of a corpus fund amounting to the tune of rupees fifty lakhs for quality education for the project affected families, reviving the defunct ITI, proper utilisation of peripheral fund under the custody of Collector, employment to the local educated youths, etc. Quarterly RPDAC meeting was also stressed by the RDC.
Representatives from UAIL namely Sri N.Nagesh, Unit Head, Sri Rakesh Mishra, Sr.GM, Sri Sibasankar Mahapatra, Sri Sabyasachi Kar, Sri Rabi narayan Mishra, Sri Sukanta Mahapatra and Sri Girish Patra were present and told to follow the resolutions taken. The company representatives presented the steps taken regarding development of education, health and employment in the area.
Representatives from the displaced area spoke about the issues which were discussed. The Collector was told to look into the matter in a phased manner. When request by PAFs was made to include villages like Dimundi, Nuapada, Bhitara Muskuni, Lachhiguda, D.Karol and Tikarpada in displaced village status list, RDC told that no decision could be taken as the matter was subjudice.
On the other hand, the construction workers and other labourers of Kashipur block under the banner of Sri Jagannath Utkal Alumina Labour Union affiliated to Bharatiya Mazdoor Sagha(BMS) assembled recently in Kodinga village and demanded massive plantation around twenty km periphery of the plant, engaging local contractors, employment at least to one of the next kin of the displaced families on the basis of their competence and educational qualification, employing local labourers in the plant and its ancillaries, constituting a local cooperative as earlier assured and taking of peripheral development activities through it, constituting a labour wage committee according to central govt guidelines, providing all the facilities to labourers as per state govt guidelines, cheking red soil getting flooded into the cultivable land and house, etc.
They also have demanded through a memorandum before the company to make a biennial agreement to increase the wage of the labourers, provide necessary safety equipments, medical facilities including in ESI hospital with transport, bonus, PF, C shift allowance, canteen facilities, fortnightly/monthly wage payment, house to those labourers who are coming beyond ten kms, adequate compensation in case of accidents, special provision in ITI for the children of construction workers, two pairs of dresses per year, children’s education in convent/public school, etc. Interestingly enough, another demand includes provision of three numbers of lifebuoy soaps per month. “It is unfortunate that the company with a Birla brand is not even able to give cheap soaps to its construction workers. Though in RPDAC like meetings, it boasts of several development activities, in reality, it has hardly taken any steps for the welfare of its labourers. We need industries like UAIL. But if the genuine demands of the labourers are not met within a particular timeframe, there will be severe labour unrest and it will affect one and all”, said Sri Jogeswar Dash, President, BMS, Rayagada.