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M’rashtra woos migrants back as SSIs hit hard
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 16
The Maharashtra government has decided to guarantee protection to migrant workers in a bid to woo back those who fled the state in the wake of violence orchestrated by Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

The state government is coming under increasing flak from industrial associations in the Pune-Nasik belt, said to be one of the fastest growing manufacturing centres in the country. Here steel factories, automobile ancillary industries and manufacturing units that service scores of big companies like the Tatas, Reliance, Kirloskars, Bajajs, etc., dot the landscape.

For the past fortnight, many of these industries have had to cut down production giving rise to fears that output for the current quarter may be badly affected. With workers showing no signs of returning, many of these units are functioning only partially. “Units functioning for three shifts have had to cut down production to one shift due to lack of workers,” says Abhay Kulkarni, Chairman, Nasik Industrial Manufacturers’ Association (NIMA).

Many industrialists in the area fear that output may be badly hit in the coming summer when the state faces a severe power shortage.

Representatives of a number of multinational companies in the area have already told media persons that units here may have to be shut down or relocated to other parts of the country if such a situation recurs. According to estimates by industrial associations in the Pune-Nasik industrial belt, more than 30,000 migrant workers have fled the place in the past fortnight. A loss of Rs 400 crore has been estimated.

Industry representatives say they have immediately advertised the vacancies in local newspapers hoping that the Marathi youth would apply. So far there has been a poor response and employers are hoping that the migrants return to work.

Many of these units set up in small galas that form industrial estates, set up by the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, employ scores of migrant workers who are paid measly wages.

These SSIs pay between Rs 50 and Rs 100 per day, far below the minimum wages mandated by the government.

So far some 20 steel rolling mills have completely stopped production while even a major company like Mahindra and Mahindra are facing production problems, reports say.

Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was missing all through the Raj Thackeray arrest drama last week, resurfaced again at Nasik to assure migrant workers that their security would be guaranteed.




‘We won’t allow UP Day celebrations’
Raj Thackeray at it again

Mumbai, February 16
Maintaining his tough stand against North Indians, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray has vowed not to allow Uttar Pradesh Day celebrations and warned that his party would take on “political goondaism” of North Indians in Maharashtra.

“No programme like UP Day, which shows North Indians’ ‘political goondaism’, will be allowed to take place here....we will first request them with folded hands. If that does not work, we will face them with bare hands,” Thackeray said in an interview to Marathi weekly Lokprabha.

Raj said he did not subscribe to the view that his party’s anti-North India campaign was unconstitutional.

“One must abide by the basic principles of the Constitution. But its intricacies keep changing. Don’t we amend the Constitution?” he said.

“Hasn’t somebody said that every generation has its constitution?” Raj said, referring to Thomas Jefferson’s quote. — PTI



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