Report by Badal Tah; Rayagada: While appreciating several steps taken up to check Corona virus outbreak by Odisha Government, Saptagiri Ulaka, the lone Congress Party MP of Odisha representing Koraput constituency has tweeted CM Naveen Pattanaik to completely shut down the industries to contain further spread of COVID-19 in the state. In the mean time he has also recommended the district collectors of Rayagada and Koraput for provisioning of Rs. 1 crore from his MPLAD for purchase of testing, screening and other facilities in connection with COVID-19. He has asked the authorities to issue the administrative sanction within two months. He has also asked the authorities to expedite spending of District Mineral Fund(DMF) for the cause.
In exercising the powers conferred in para-1(r)&(s) of the order no-8870 dated 23-3-2020 of Health & Family Welfare Deptt, Govt of Odisha, District Collector-cum-Magistrate Sri Pramod Kumar Behera has allowed industries like Utkal Alumina International Ltd(UAIL) at Tikiri, JK Paper Mills Ltd(JKPM) at JK Pur, Indian Metal & Ferro Alloys Ltd(IMFA) at Therubali, Fimakem India Ltd at Kumutipentha to operate their plants with minimum employees/workmen in batches & shifts, while observing the norms of social distancing & other instructions. Vehicles and other support systems were allowed to operate. The order also mentioned about the employees engaged in non-essential services to be encouraged to work from home.
Realising the gravity of situation and intense activity in industries and lack of technical capability of the industry personnel in tracking and identifying the influx of persons into the peripheries of these industries from various states like Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and other states having business interests in the industrial area, the local gentries have expressed their concern.
Dr K Salvaraju, Ex-Principal of Rayagada Autonomous College and presently member of permanent lok adalat, Rayagada said, ”The plant needs to completely shut down. As per the govt guidelines no salary cut should be done either for permanent or casual workers. The labourers working on daily basis under the contractors can be compensated from the CSR fund. If around 2000 workers working on daily basis are paid Rs.800 per day for 21 days, the company will spend around Rs.3.36 crores. And if it is for another 21 days, it is Rs.6.72 crores, which is not a big deal for a company of Birla repute. If the Indian railway, the highest service provider, can be closed down, then why not UAIL, VEDANTA, JK & IMFA ?”
Aditya Birla’s Annual Report for the year 2018-19 mentions that Profit After Tax(PAT) of UAIL is Rs.1425 crores, which corroborates the statements of Dr.Salvaraju. Parting a mere 1% of the PAT comes to Rs.14.25 crores, which seems sufficient to act on complete plant closure. Simili can be drawn for other companies of the area also. Though a Company spends in every financial year, at least two percent of the average net profits of the Company made during the three immediately preceding financial years towards its CSR activities as envisaged schedule VII, Section 135 (5) of the Companies Act 2013 read with Section 198 of said Act & Rules made there under, COVID-19 could be considered as a special case and 2% of the net profit of the recent financial year should be spent on CSR. In that case, UAIL can think of spending Rs.28.5 crores primarily in Kashipur block and adjacent blocks of Rayagada namely K Singhpur & Rayagada.