Employees of Steel Industrials Kerala Limited (SILK) steel fabrication unit here have expressed concern over their future as the setting up of the proposed Kerala Rail Component Factory at Cherthala is getting delayed inordinately.

As per an agreement signed between the Railways and the State government, a joint venture company (JVC) was to be set up. The steel fabrication unit (SFU) and the Autokast factory were to be taken over in a phased manner.

SFU employees pointed out that the JVC was yet to be registered even though a memorandum of understanding was signed in June 2008. The SFU had but been detached from SILK.

Failure to register the JVC might lead to a loss of Rs.85 crore that was sanctioned for the purpose in the Union Railway Budget, the employees said.

The capital investment for the new company is Rs.36 crore, out of which the State's share is 49 per cent. Keeping aside the value of the land and assets owned by the State, a sum of Rs.2.7 crore had to be deposited with the Railways. This apart, the provident fund arrears of about 40 SFU employees, the power charge dues of the SFU and other arrears, which are to be paid by the State, would add up to Rs.6 crore. Though the State had included Rs.10 crore in its Budget for the modernisation of Autokast, the dues of the SFU were not settled, SILK employees said.

Attempts to press for amendments to the project report of the Railway's consulting arm, RITES, might only result in the entire project being delayed further. The employees had also been demanding that an IAS officer from the Industries Department be appointed as liaison officer for the project. They had been seeking the concerted efforts of the State government and Union Ministers from the State to expedite the project.

“We were detached from SILK as part of the agreement. Unless the project moves forward, we will continue to be orphans. Political differences should not come in the way of this prestigious project,” an employee said.

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