A little over three months after taking control over the ailing Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd, the West Bengal Government on Saturday said that a Committee of Secretaries has been set up to oversee the affairs of the company. A Committee of Ministers is already looking into the company’s functioning.
Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee told the media at the State Secretariat here that the Committee of Ministers set up earlier has already submitted its recommendations for reviving the company. “Today (Saturday) the Government approved the setting up of a Committee of Secretaries which will monitor the implementation of the measures recommended by the committee of Ministers.”
At a Board of Directors’ meeting in June this year former Coal India Ltd chairman Partha S. Bhattacharyya stepped down as the HPL managing director and Sumantra Banerjee, a retired civil servant and former State Transport Secretary, was appointed his successor. The Industry Minister is the chairman of HPL in which the government and non-resident Indian Purnendu Chatterjee are the two main promoters. Indian Oil Corporation also holds equity. In March, HPL staved off a mandatory BIFR referral by converting a part of its debt to equity after which lenders now have eight per cent share.
Although within a month of takeover Mr Chatterjee held a Press conference to say that things have started improving, the company is now foundering. The cash-strapped HPL is now running at 50 per cent, 6.75 lakh tonnes, capacity and has piled up unsold stocks of over 20,000 tonnes of polymers and 9,000 tonnes of chemicals, sources told The Hindu . It is unable to sell its products in a depressed market.
An earlier attempt to bring in an overseas company for a conversion arrangement also fell through after some initial progress. Mr Chatterjee dodged a barrage of queries on the company saying that he could not put the company’s business plans in the public domain. Sources said that a forced closure to cut losses is an option.
Mr Chatterjee said the government has approved three industrial projects. He, however, gave no concrete data on the proposed investment or employment generation.