The factory was closed on Monday after farmers claimed their peaceful protests over the last 50 days failed to yield any result

Asian paints workers protest
news News Wednesday, January 13, 2021 - 08:34

Operations at an Asian Paints factory in Mysuru’s Nanjangud remained shut on Tuesday as protesting farmers blocked the gates of the factory stopping the entry and exit of workers for the second day. This step from the farmers came after their peaceful protests for more than 50 days were met allegedly yielded no results from the factory management. For close to two months, 95 farmers who were made to part away with their land in Immavu village for the construction of the factory in 2017 have been sitting in protests outside the factory. 

Sachin S, who gave away four and a half acres of land for the project said, “If they don't listen to our demands, water and power supply will be cut off.  We will drop the protest once the management provides us with permanent employment at this very plant.” The land was acquired by state government’s Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) and was leased to the company for 99 years at concessionary rates during the chief ministership of Siddaramaiah. 

However, Asian Paints denied the claim. The company's statement has been reproduced below.

Incidentally, Karnataka Industries Minister Jagadish Shettar who was apprised of the situation had held a meeting with the company management. But even then the company management has not taken any affirmative action since then.

Another protestor, Premraj M, said, “If we go to the KIADB, they acknowledge that the company has to provide us jobs there but says it can’t act without fresh orders from the government. The government has only cheated us so far, if they were really with us they would have taken necessary action by this time.”

The farmers have been demanding that one family member of each family who lost their land be given a permanent job as agreed upon during the acquisition process. According to that agreement, 900 local residents other than the landowners were also supposed to get jobs in the factory. The family members of the land losers have also been joined by members of trade and farmer outfits like the All India United Trade Union Center (AIUTUC) and Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha who have lent support to their cause.

Speaking on this, Chandrasekhar Meti, AIUTUC, said, “All these 95 families who have lost their land are small farmers and have no other means of livelihood. According to the agreement, the company is supposed to give employment to one member of all these families but they are not complying. But at the same time, they are using government money to get land at Rs 100 for a year, 2.5 MLD of water and electricity at concessionary rates.”

He added, “During the construction of the factory, one member of the land losing families were sent for training by the company with payment and was assured a job. But when the company started functioning one and a half years ago, they only gave only a contractual job that too not in this factory. They were sent for a sanitizer manufacturing unit managed by the company 40 km away. But we all know once the COVID-crisis is over, the demand for sanitizers will go down and the unit may shut down.”

Please find below the statement from Asian Paints regarding the same:

Statement

In the last 5 years, Asian Paints has set up 2 mega paint manufacturing facilities in the state of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh with a total investment of Rs. 2400 crores.  Both the plants have an installed capacity of 300,000 KL/annum and together employ about 1200 people.  These plants are set up using state-of-the-art technology and are built in line with the concept of ‘Smart Factory’. The plants operate with maximum green energy including wind and rooftop solar and have received IGBC (Indian Green Business Council) Platinum rated certification for its buildings from Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Asian Paints is totally committed to the communities around its plant and works with several NGOs in the areas of health, water, hygiene and education.  We truly believe that strong communities are the necessary ingredients of economic success and the company has taken up various community development projects.  We are also supporting the youth of this region by offering them a Diploma in Engineering program through partnership with a local institute.

Being an environmentally conscious organization, and being mindful of the inconvenience being faced by the communities due to water problems, we are working with an NGO to level up the ground water through multiple initiatives.

As a law-abiding company, Asian Paints has acted in line with the terms of conditions agreed upon with the Government of Karnataka. As per the land lease agreement signed by Asian Paints with the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB), and other terms & conditions mutually agreed with the land sellers, the company had offered jobs to all the eligible land sellers within the Mysuru region in a facility specifically setup to offer on-roll jobs to the land sellers. This has been done with an additional investment of Rs. 14 crores for the Health & Hygiene business of the company. The company has gone an extra mile, so that the organization honours all the commitments made to the Government and also contributes to the prosperity and progressiveness of the region. The additional facility has been created specially to give on-roll permanent employment to all the land sellers since the existing paint facility is highly automated and given the qualification of the land sellers, they cannot work in the paint plant where there are automated systems which requires qualified engineers. The land sellers have been trained and paid stipend during their training period from June 2019 to August 2020. The situation has changed suddenly in the last 4-6 weeks, wherein land sellers are not ready to take the on-roll permanent jobs at the new facility especially built at an additional cost of Rs. 14 crores in alignment with the Government authorities. It is highly unfortunate that despite the company going out of the way to offer permanent jobs to land sellers, the gates of the Mysuru paint plant are blocked and demonstrations being held despite an injunction order from the Hon’ble Court. This has led to a shutdown of the Mysuru paint facility since last 2-3 days resulting into business loss. This shutdown of the plant and the current situation is not good for industries to put more investment in the region since it creates uncertainty on continuity and ease of doing business.

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