Indrani Dutta

Rs. 15 crore ERS payment made out of DFID fund of the U.K.

Package ranges between Rs. 1.50 lakh and Rs. 11 lakhPlans for partial launch in DecemberRetains 22 former employees

KOLKATA: The employees of Great Eastern Hotel (GEH) who had opted for the early retirement scheme (ERS) have received payments from the Great Eastern Hotel Authority, putting to rest the uncertainty dogging the minds of the employees.

The ERS paved the way for a smooth handover of Asia's oldest running hotel to the private sector Bharat Hotel Ltd. (BHL), which now has 90 per cent of the equity stake with the West Bengal government holding the remaining share.

BHL had paid the government Rs. 52 crore on November 30 to acquire the controlling stake.

Sources told The Hindu that 416 out of the 417 employees received their ERS payments on December 30. While all the 424 employees had opted for the ERS, eight retired in the normal course before November 30, 2005, the effective date for ERS. The dues of one could not be paid as he was missing from September 2005.

The ERS payout totalling Rs. 15 crore was paid out of a Department For International Development (DFID)-U.K. fund, and entailed a package ranging between Rs. 1.50 lakh and Rs. 11 lakh depending on the years of service put in. PF and gratuity payments were extra.

A team representing BHL has taken possession of the 213-room hotel and has been overseeing `cleaning operations'.

The company retained 22 former employees to assist in the transition.

Plans are for a partial launch in December 2006.

In order to corporatise the state-owned hotel, it has been merged into another state-run entity, Apollo Zippers Ltd., which remained closed.

The Rs. 5 crore liability of the hotel (including income-tax, luxury tax and sundry creditors) and the Rs. 1 crore receivable, rests with the State government.