Political parties have resurrected an age-old promise to revive the ceramic industry in Jharkhand’s Nirsa ahead of December 14, when the state goes to the polls in the fourth of the five-phase assembly elections.
Ruins of 100-odd factories of the British era dotting the industrial township, once known as the Manchester of unified Bihar, stand testimony to years of neglect. Successive governments turned a blind eye as companies rolled down their shutters, even after the area became a part of Jharkhand after the state was carved out in 2000.
Senior politician and three-time Nirsa legislator, KS Chatterjee, said failure to upgrade technology, excessive unionism and cash-credit imbalance were the main reasons behind Nirsa’s decline. “Shutting of industries caused massive migration of locals while those who stayed back got into coal theft for survival,” he said.
Nirsa is infamous for gang wars and unreported murders. Chatterjee says at least four to five people are killed in coal theft rivalries every day, but the administration looks the other way.
With elections round the corner, promises of reviving the dead industrial area that once employed around 80,000 people, features on the agenda of political parties once again and the blame game is on.
“Blame the two-time sitting legislator for the sorry state of affairs,” Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s Ashok Mandal said.
However, the Marxist Coordination Committee’s Arup Chatterjee, who has represented the Left stronghold in the 81-member assembly for the past two terms, blamed the Centre’s policies.
“The Centre’s errant policies are forcing the shutters down on ceramic factories across the country,” said Chatterjee.
Locals are largely indifferent to election campaigns, as they have seen politicians making the same promise over and over again. Excessive trade unionism and a lack of political vision have today made Nirsa what locals call an “economic crime belt”.
But Chatterjee refused to acknowledge the decline of the industrial area, adding, “Newer industries like the wagon manufacturing unit have come up recently.”