: Members of Parliament from Kerala have urged the Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Sector Enterprises Praful Patel to allow Palakkad unit of Instrumentation Limited (IL) to go for a joint venture with Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL).

Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha P.J. Kurien in a letter to the Union Minister on May 8 said that “the Palakkad unit of IL has been doing its major business with BHEL. Hence, a joint venture with BHEL (being an effective partner since inception of IL) will save this profitable unit from eventual disaster.”

Mr. Kurien urged the Union Minister to consider a wage revision which was overdue for the last six years considering the unit’s best performance.

Similar letters were written by P.C. Chacko, K. Sudhakaran, M.B. Rajesh, and other MPs from Kerala, Instrumentation Employees Union president V.S. Vijayaraghavan said.

He said that it was a paradox that the Palakkad unit of IL, a Central public sector unit set up in 1974 and making profit since its inception, continued to struggle for survival. The prospects of the unit turned for the worse two decades ago when the main unit at Kota went into the red.

In 2008-09, the turnover of the company was Rs.253 crore with a record loss of Rs.68 crore. During this period, the Palakkad unit increased its turnover to Rs.91.74 crore and profit by Rs.20 crore.

In 2010-11, the turnover of the company was Rs.249 crore with a loss of Rs.36.5 crore. But the Palakkad unit increased its turnover to Rs.101.96 crore and profit by Rs.22 crore. During 2012-13 the turnover of Palakkad unit was Rs.115 crore making a profit of Rs.15 crore.

Mr. Vijayaraghavan said if the Palakkad unit was allowed to function independently, it could make enough profit to take care of the entire company. When the former Chief Minister the late K. Karunakaran was the Union Industries Minister, he had decided to separate the Palakkad unit. Before he could implement the decision, election notification was issued and the decision was kept in abeyance.

The first revival package of the company was approved in 1999 by the BIFR which envisaged subsidiary units under a holding company. Accordingly, the Palakkad unit was registered as Instrumentation Control Valves Limited and a joint venture partner was sought.

In 2004, the Union Cabinet decided to hand over 51 per cent shares of the new subsidiary company to Larsen & Toubro for Rs.16.5 crore. But this decision also did not work out as the management realised the dangers of separating the Palakkad unit as there were no suitors for any other unit.

“The BHEL extends Rs.25 crore annually as advance for making its products, which are made at the Palakkad unit. But the fund-starved company headquarters, without any solid business, uses the fund for salaries at Kota,” he said.