Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 29:
Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) chief operating officer (COO) KK Dave today met Odisha Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick at the state secretariat and requested him for allocation of a mine to its Lanjigarh plant so that the company is not forced to close operations at the site.
“We have been running this plant here as per the agreement with Odisha Government since last ten years with a hope to use raw materials from the state. But we haven’t even got a tonne of bauxite from here yet. We are not in a position to run the plant even for a day longer. However, we had a meeting with the government today to discuss the issue. The negotiations are still on and there would be another meeting next week. We wouldn’t mind continuing with talks if it can end in a solution,” said Dave.
Mines Minister Mallick, however, pushed the agenda to the next meeting.
“They requested the government for allocation of bauxite mines. Another round of meeting would be held next Friday with companies such as NALCO to discuss things further,” said Mallick.
The meeting today bears significance as it happens after the meeting between Lanjigarh BJD MLA Balabhadra Majhi, Bhawanipatna Sadar MLA Anam Naik and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik yesterday. The MLAs had lobbied for the company saying the closure of the refinery would result in large-scale joblessness and had demanded allocation of bauxite mines to Vedanta Aluminium to keep its Lanjigarh plant operational.
As per information provided by Dave earlier, the closure of the plant would impact nearly 10,000 people directly and the region at large as the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives of the company like Mid-day Meal in 187 schools and the Vedanta Lanjigarh Hospital that provides free medical treatment would get affected.
The chain of events gained pace after the company issued a press release informing about the closure of its Lanjigarh operations on August 25 citing unavailability of bauxite and the falling global metal prices.
“We ran this unit with all commitment for nearly a decade, despite heavy odds. But with the current market turmoil, which is not likely to improve soon and in the absence of access to bauxite from within the State, the plant is operating with a daily loss of Rs 3 crores. Hence, we are forced to initiate the process of gradual closure,” Dave had said.