THE people of the entire Kolar district in Karnataka stood as one person to express solidarity with the work force of Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), a public sector undertaking under the ministry of defence.
Responding to a call, a total and peaceful district bandh was observed on May 30.
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) district unit took the initiative in organising the bandh to send a strong signal to the centre against the privatisation of the profit making PSU. The BEM Employees’ Association (BEMEA) joined hands with the CITU in making the bandh a
A series of meetings of various organisations and parties including CPI(M), SFI, AIDWA, DYFI, Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha were held as a preparation to the bandh. A number of Dalit and pro-Kannada outfits also extended support to the agitation making it a survival issue of the district and the region. Kannada Sahitya Parishat’s open
support was a highlight of the agitation.
The normal life in the district was affected due to the bandh. The work at BEML factory at Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) came to a grinding halt as workers boycotted the work in support of the bandh.
Activists took out two wheeler rallies seeking support to the bandh.
Shops and business establishments at Kolar, KGF and other taluk centres such as Bangarpet, Mulbagal, Srinivasapur and Malur were closed. Private and government buses did not ply.
The functionaries of CITU and other Leftist outfits foiled the attempts of KSRTC authorities to operate the buses in the morning. Private and KSRTC bus stands across the district wore deserted look. Schools and colleges remained closed since holiday was declared as a precautionary measure.
The CITU district president G Arjunan, honorary president Gandhinagar Narayanaswamy, BEMEA president K Anjaneya Reddy participated among others in the agitation.
Earlier, CITU held a convention on May 26. Addressing the convention, CITU state vice president KN Umesh lashed at the centre for disinvesting the public sector undertakings. He said the people of the country had not given a GPA (general power of attorney) to any government to sell the country’s property to private players. The privatisation of BEML was a dangerous move as it involved sovereignty of the country since this ‘Mini Ratna’ category 1 company
is engaged in producing defence equipments beside other products.
The privatisation is likely to affect a number of employees in the factory and adversely affect the economy of the backward and perennially drought hit Kolar district. Already, the NDA government has terminated mining operations of Bharat Gold Mines Ltd in 2001 on
the pretext of losses, leaving thousands of workers and their families in the lurch. Now the centre’s move to privatise BEML has shocked the people as it would divest the only remaining PSU in the district and adversely affect economic activities.
G Arjunan congratulated the people of the district for whole heartedly supporting the stir aimed at saving the
major PSU in the district.