Hundreds of people Tuesday staged a demonstration in Odisha, seeking allocation of bauxite for the alumina refinery of Vedanta Aluminum Limited (VAL) in the state which has been facing a shutdown threat due to the shortage of the key raw material.
The people, including displaced villagers and employees of the refinery, staged the demonstration in front of the office of the collector at the district headquarters town of Bhabanipatna, about 370 km from here.
The employees and villagers also submitted a memorandum to district collector Dukhishyam Satpathy, a senior district police official told IANS.
“We are rehabilitated, provided with jobs. At this juncture if the bauxite is not provided, the plant will be closed down after which our life will again take a back- step of 10 years,” said Hari Majhi, one of the demonstrators.
The move came about a week after VAL president Mukesh Kumar informed the state authorities that it would shutdown the refinery Dec 5 as bauxite was not available.
The project supporters had earlier taken out similar demonstrations last month at Lanjigarh town, the home of the plant, as they fear loss of jobs.
Set up at an investment of $800 million, the VAL plant requires three lakh tonnes of bauxite per month to run the alumina refinery at full capacity.
However, due to bauxite shortage, the company has been running the one-million-tonne per annum refinery at 40-50 percent of its capacity for the past several weeks.
VAL president Mukesh Kumar Sep 6 had informed the state government of its intention to shut down temporarily its alumina refinery as supply of bauxite from different states was not possible.
Kumar had stated since the Vedanta plant was designed for Odisha bauxite, the availability of bauxite only from Odisha could ensure sustainability of the plant’s operation.
Vedanta wants to mine bauxite from Niyamgiri Hills located near its refinery but environmental and other clearances for this have been mired in litigation and protests. It has also applied for several other bauxite reserves in the state, but none of them have materialised so far.