Give us our daily bread

By Atul Deulgaonkar
Published: Tuesday 15 February 2005

Star Oxochem Employees Marathi dailies

While villagers in Chipri village in Maharashtra's Kolhapur district are on the warpath against Star Oxochem Private Limited's (sopl) Oxalic acid plant (see 'Violent Turn,' Down To Earth, January 31 2005), 250 workers of the factory have rallied to their employers' support. And how? In the first week of January, they issued an advertisement in Marathi dailies denouncing the villagers' agitation as the handiwork of vested interests. "The factory has gone to great lengths to ensure that standards are complied with. In 2002, equipment worth Rs 80 lakh was installed to make sure that oxalic acid from the factory does not pollute the village," it belabours. The ad then makes a plaintive plea: "The livelihoods of around a 1,000 people has been jeopardised, since vandalism forced the factory to close down."

It's undeniable that the shutting down of the plant has caused economic problems for sopl's workers. But is the advertisement a ploy to turn sympathy for sopl's workers to the factory's advantage? If that's so, no prizes for guessing who is behind the ad.

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