The family members of 300former employees ofthe Jeypore Sugar Company (JSCo) under the aegis of Retired Employees Union staged a blockade in front of JSCo main gate demanding land for housing purpose.
The JSCo is one of the oldest company of Rayagada having its registered office now in Chennai. It was established in Rayagada during 1936 and then diversified into a distillery and ferro-manganese company. All these companies at Rayagada flourished and opened other branches in Andhra Pradesh.
The company became dysfunctional in eighties due to more focus in Andhra units. During the year 1992, the then Revenue Officer of Rayagada after inspection noticed JSCo to return 507 out of 787 acres of land under Land Ceiling Act. JSCo appealed the higher courts of Sub-divisional Magistrate and Additional District Magistrate who upheld the Revenue Officer’s order. JSCo then went to the Orissa High Court where the matter is still pending. The State ’s legal counsel is not appearing because of a nexus
“Being assured by the company 300 employees deposited Rs300 each for a housing plot measuring 20 cents during 1971. We waited indefinitely. Since 1980 we have been requesting JSCo authorities to allot house sites in Khata number 46 with Plot numbers 284, 286/1 and 17. Responding to our request, during the year 1985 the MD deputed Rama Chandra Rao, Civil Engineer, Chagallu for demarcation and preparing a lay-out plan. Thereafter she kept silent. Now many of these employees have expired. The remaining employees and their legal heirs are toiling hard without the basic need of a house of their own. We even went to its registered office at Chennai several times to meet its MD Raja Rajeswari Rama Krishnan. But she refused meet us,” said the agitators.
“The lands in question are not subject matter of ceiling case pending in Orissa High Court. So for the Government authorities, it will not be difficult to settle those lands in our favour as homeless and landless persons. We have requested in written and approached in person to the concerned authorities of JSCo time and again for the subject cited above. We also had a peaceful protest in front of the non-functioning factory at Rayagada. But unfortunately the management of JSCo has not paid any heed to our request and democratic means of protest,” said Venkat Rao Senapati, legal advisor of the union. Rao, himself a son of a retired employee, warned that if the company authorities do not heed to their single point demand, they will be compelled to lock JSCo’s main gate permanently and may go for blockade of Rayagada town.
Rayagada Tehsildar Umashankar Sahu had a discussion with the protesters and assured them to take the matter to the Advocate General for further necessary action.
Interestingly enough, Jeypore Rani Saheba said to this correspondent that the entire land of 787 acres belongs to the Jeypore King and the lands were leased to JSCo. In connivance with the State revenue authorities, JSCo has fraudulently managed to make ROR(Record of Rights) in its name. They are now preparing for a legal battle to restore the land in their name. They are also prepared to part with the land for the development of Rayagada district, including housing sites to the poor landless and former employees of JSCo.