NALCO:THE SYMBOL OF ORISSA’S TENSILE STRENGTH

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Almost every individual Oriya is extremely worried that NALCO is now in Vajpai’s dumping-bag even though it is the most profit fetching undertaking in the public sector. There may be logic behind selling away a PSU that incorrigibly incurs a loss. But NALCO has never made a loss, it has always made handsome profits. Why then is the Centre so eager to sell it out to a private firm? This is the strait question Orissa is asking.

It is not that Vajpai has not attempted to provide an answer. Two of his party members in the Parliament hailing from Orissa have ventured to present the central government views. Anadi Sahu has advanced the argument that selling of NALCO to private sector having originally been mooted by Navin Patnaik as Union Minister, Steel & Mines, Vajpai is not to be blamed. And, the other one, Mr. Kharavel Swain, has been engaged to justify the sale. According to the brief he holds, even though it has been making profits, NALCO will incur loss after two three years, he says. In order to get a higher price, the sale must take place without delay, he argues.

Such absurd arguments have no impact on the common man of Orissa. He is determined to obstruct the sale. His spontaneous participation in the ‘Band’ agitation reminds one of the mass movements against the attempt to take over the Gandhamardan Hill by BALCO.

The mindless union ministry may proceed with the sale programme. But whoever purchases NALCO shall have to face the wrath of Orissa. And, that would be too severe for an industry to sustain.

It is yet not clear as on whose behest the Vajpayee government is eager to sale away NALCO. But the price they have fixed for its sale reflects the anti-nation character of this regime. The regime is offering NALCO at a price of Rs.2, 982 crores, even though its instrumental and product value is accessed to be worth Rs.22 thousand crores at the minimum. The mineral deposits in the mines under its possession are estimated to be not less than Rs.50 thousand crores. As such a public property worth Rs.72 thousand crores is offered by Vajpayee regime to private firms at a paltry sum worth less than Rs 3 thousand crores only. Did the Oriyas surrender their land for such venality? Did they suffer pernicious pollution for benefit only of an unknown private firm? The Oriyas, barring a few of the followers of BJP, know the answer. And, therefore, they are determined to obstruct the sale.

Orissa is distinguished for the tolerant nature of her people. This nature comes from their tradition of superior feeling. It is not passive, but is always active. Their active tolerance had shown Asoke the futility of sword power. Recent history has witnessed how actively the Oriyas displayed their tolerance while registering their resistance at Baliapal and Gandhamardan. History is destined to be repeated in the case of NALCO. It undoubtedly symbolises the tensile strength of Orissa.

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