With the management not spelling out its stand, the employees of Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) here are groping in the dark about their future.

The meeting convened by Union Mines Minister Dinsha Patel at New Delhi on Wednesday decided to set up a technical committee to study various options.

A Damocles Sword is hanging over the heads of employees with the management forcing almost all of them to go on transfer to mining sites and various offices located in Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Instead of calling it transfer, a circular was issued on the notice board on March 12 deputing as many as 262 employees to various places.

The circular and the March 11 deadline set for opting for special voluntary retirement scheme did the wonders in favour of the management. The unit had 309 permanent employees till a month ago. Before the expiry of the VRS deadline, 22 opted for the golden handshake. After the circular, the employees’ strength has come down to 226. The production at Zinc Smelter was shut down on February 9, 2012. The aggrieved workers who were staging dharna daily at the gate since January 3 are sitting in a relay hunger strike for the past fortnight.

“The management wants to wind up the unit on frivolous grounds. Their decision to stop production was unilateral despite knowing the fact that the Union government has 29 per cent stake in the company. They were given 360 acres along with the plant with the hope that their takeover will develop Mindi and nearby areas,” Union Minister of State of Commerce and Industry D. Purandeswari told The Hindu.

She said their contention that the unit was located in a critically polluted area was not justified as Coromandel, HPCL and other units were functioning normally in the same locality. They say there was no space in two tanks located each on 10 acres. “Our information says one of the two tanks still has 50 per cent space left and can last for another five years. Their contention on power situation in AP is also not justified,” she pointed out.The management has not yet officially spelt out its stand on future of Zinc Smelter.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed on our future,” said Zinc Smelter Mazdoor Sangh general secretary K. Rammohan Rao.

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