Mumbai, 06 August, 2016: The ‘Acche Din’ term so vociferously professed by the government seems to have eluded and become a tragic mockery for more than 1500 employees of Public Sector Unit (PSU) Hindustan Organic Chemicals (HOC) and their families. Located at Rasayani near Panvel in Navi Mumbai, the unit has ceased operations since 2001, bringing several families on the verge of starvation and threatening their livelihood. Three workers have committed suicide owing to the unpredictable circumstances concerning the future of their survival.
“All concerned authorities have turned a blind eye to the plight of the suffering workers who have not received their salaries for the past 15 months. Under the guise of disinvestment in so-called sick units, NITI Aayog has proposed to the government the closure of the unit and the privatization of its assets including its land without formulating alternative steps for the rehabilitation of affected workers and their families. We foresee a deep-rooted conspiracy in the move to indulge in mass privatization of public assets for minting money at the cost of uprooting existing employees,” stated Shri. B. P. Peshattiwar, President, HOC Employees Union.
There have been allegations of blatant violations of stated protocols while ceasing operations at the unit. As per the stipulations of the Companies Act 1956, the planned closure of a PSU entails passing a resolution in an Annual General Meeting (AGM) of company shareholders and taking their consent. No AGM has been held, violating the rights of shareholders. The land of more than 250 workers belonging to the SC/ST category was also taken for the construction of the unit and they were given jobs at the unit as a compensatory gesture. Without rehabilitating these workers in a proper manner, there is no legal sanction for proceeding with the closure of the unit. A pertinent question here is if the government is in plans to spend Rs 6,000 crore for the revival of 4 sick fertilizer units in other states, why the same preference is not given to HOC, which has the capacity to make profits.
HOC is the sole producer of N2O4 in India,a material which is used by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for research purpose and launching activities. The company still possesses formaldehyde and aniline plants in good working condition which can be made operational again provided there is regular supply of raw material. This will not only revive operations at the plant but will also provide renewed livelihood to the workers who have been rendered jobless. It is time the government step in and take proactive action in the matter by pumping in much needed working finance to purchase the much-needed raw material to kick-start production activity and settling the dues of the affected workers in a prompt manner.
Hindustan Organic Chemicals Limited(HOC) was set up by the Government of India in 1960 with the objective of attaining self-reliance in basic organic chemicals needs. In fact this was the first endeavor to indigenise manufacture of basic chemicals and to reduce country’s dependence on import of vital organic chemicals.