The Keonjhar collector, Bishnu Prasad Sahu, who is also the district election officer, via letter number 1090/dated April 2, 2014, ordered that "loading of minerals from different mines, plants and raliway sidings located in Keonjhar district and movement of minerals carrying as well as empty trucks over NH215, including connecting roads, are hereby stopped from 05.04.2014 to 20.04.2014."
The collector has stated that the purpose of the order is to ensure effective implementation of the model code of conduct, to ensure effective movement of election monitoring teams, to ensure safe movement of polling personnel to polling booths, to ensure overall monitoring of the election process for smooth, free and fair conduct of polls on April 17,2014, and to ensure effective police patrolling at night.
The state government's decision to ban the transportation of minerals has led to panic in the steel as well as the transportation sector.
"The ban order would cause total dislocation in the supply of raw materials to a large number of steel plants, sponge iron plants, pelletisation plants and beneficiation plants in different parts of the state, forcing them to shut down their production facilities", said All Orissa Steel Federation president PL Kandoi.
Kandoi has expressed his surprise over the government decision. Never in the past has a ban been enforced during elections, he recalls, as he demands that the state government should withdraw the order immediately.
Kandoi said the closure of blast furnaces will damage them, causing huge production and time loss to the industry.
Keonjhar BJD legislator Subarna Nayak said, "This will lead to unemployment of thousands of casual workers engaged in mining and despatch operations, and hit movement of minerals and finished goods in the mineral and industrial belts of the state."
Over 40,000 trucks employing 80,000 people directly are engaged in mineral transportation in the Keonjhar and Sundergarh districts of Odisha.