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Maoists scaring away foreigners,staff: HAL to Orissa

Officials are reluctant to visit facility in Koraput district.

Written by Debabrata Mohanty | Bhubaneswar | Published: October 3, 2013 12:48:02 am

The August 27 landmine blast triggered by Maoists in Koraput,in which four BSF men were killed,has cast its shadow on Navratna PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s factory in the district with foreign nationals,mainly Russian engineers,reluctant to visit there fearing similar attacks.

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In two separate letters to Orissa Chief Secretary Jugal Mohapatra last month,HAL Executive Director Anirudh Kumar said that apart from the Russians,vendors and suppliers from different parts of the country are reluctant to come to Sunabeda — where the factory is located — to provide necessary supply and support for machineries and other equipment.

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“Our employees and their family members are also worried in view of the deteriorating law and order situation. Officials from other divisions of HAL located in Bangalore,Nasik,Kanpur,Lucknow and Hyderabad are reluctant to visit Sunabeda on official work or being posted on transfer. The transfer requests to move out of Sunabeda is increasing,” Kumar wrote.

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“Such an incident not only affects the operations of the factory,but also puts expansion and new projects in jeopardy. It is requested to take appropriate steps to mitigate the situation for the sake of the defence requirements of the country,smooth operation of a vital installation in Orissa and in the interest of around 25,000 direct and 1 lakh indirect beneficiaries,” he wrote.

The HAL factory at Sunabeda,set up in 1995,manufactures engines for the MiG series and Su-30MKI fighter aircraft for IAF,Navy,Coast Guard and BSF.

Although the district has seen Maoist presence for several years now,the August 27 attack on NH 26 in Pottangi area of Koraput has triggered the fears. The blast spot is just 35 km from the HAL facility.

The HAL official said that since Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh is the nearest point from where they can get rail and air connectivity to other parts of the country,they have no other option but to travel on the Pottangi route. HAL Koraput also uses the same route to send aircraft engines directly to IAF bases.

The PSU has also demanded revival of the Jeypore airport,about a km away from its facility for better air connectivity and landing of AVRO and AN-32 carrier aircrafts. The Jeypore runway was in use till 1987.

In the letters,HAL has also raised the issue of encroachment,saying three hamlets in its land pose a risk to its township. HAL complained that people of these hamlets are making unreasonable demands like return of their land by state government,employment,free medical and education facilities and resorting to agitational methods.

FEAR on highway

Visakhapatnam,which is 180 km from Sunabeda,is a vital travel point for HAL employees as well as the facility’s vendors and engineers.

National Highway 26 is important as it connects Sunabeda with the Andhra port city,which has the nearest rail junction and international airport.

The August 27 landmine blast,targeting the BSF convoy,took place in Pottangi area on NH-26,which is just 35 km from Sunabeda and is one of the points the HAL employees regularly cross.

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