Novel protest by employees for OTM revival

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 13 (UNI) Carrying effigies of four cotton farmers and 17 Orissa Textile Mills(OTM) employees, who had committed suicide following the closure of a mill at Chowdwar in 2001, hundreds of people today staged a massive demonstration in front of the Assembly demanding revival, expansion and modernisation of the Mill.

The demonstrators, under the banner of three organisations- Birat Jana Kalyan Samiti, Orissa Bekari Birodhi Abhijan and OTM Banchao Sangthan earlier came in a symbolic funeral procession and put the effigies on fire amidst chanting of ''Ram Nam Satya hai,'' OTM Revival Satya Hai to apprise the Chief Minister of the plight of workers and farmers.

The OTM was set up in 1946 by the then Chief Minister Biju Patnaik over 530 acres of land at Choudwar with a capacity to produce one lakh metre of clothes per day.

It had provided direct employment to 7,000 people and indirect job to 20,000 people.

Besides meeting the requirement of Orissa, the mill was exporting clothes to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chenai, Ranchi, Jabalpur, Amritsar, Haryana, Coimbatore and Uttar Pradesh.

It was closed in 2001 after it incurred heavy loss and was declared lockout. But due to the stiff opposition by the OTM employees,the government through an affidavit, told the High Court to revive it and deposited Rs 30 crore in February 2007.

But seven months later the government betrayed the people by submitting to the court that ''there was no question of reviving the OTM.'' The organisers said due to the apathetic attitude of the government as many as 21 people --17 OTM employees and four cotton farmers have committed suicide in the past.

The people of chowdwar observed a bandh on February 8 last as a mark of protest.

The demonstrators demanded the government to reconstruct, expand and modernise the OTM and set up an Integrated Textile Plant.

They said the expansion and modernisation of OTM would create job opprtunities for around 20,000 unemployed youths of the area and cotton farmers of Chowdwar, Kalahandi and Koraput.

The organisers demanded the government to submit a concrete proposal to Orissa High Court on February 29 , the date fixed by the Court for finalisation of the tender process of the OTM.

UNI BD-DP KK DB1720

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