Avert shutdown of legacy mills, says former MP

M. Ramadass

M. Ramadass

Former MP M. Ramadass on Sunday said the proposal of the Industries Department to shut down the operations of the government-owned Swadeshi and Bharathi Mills from May 31 was “highly regrettable, unjustified and uncalled for”. He sought urgent intervention to revive the legacy units.

Urging the government to reject the proposal outright and initiate appropriate and urgent action to revive these mills, Mr. Ramadass said the authorities should realise the profound socio-economic impact that closing down well-built large industries one by one under one pretext or the other would have on a small place like Puducherry.

Pointing out that the units had helped the government achieve its objectives of economic growth, employment, income, consumption, savings and exports, Mr. Ramadass said no prudent government would kill the golden goose.

According to him, sickness and revival were a common phenomenon in the textile industry. In 2004, when the Swadeshi and Bharathi Mills was suffering from an acute crisis, the National Textile Corporation (NTC) acquired these mills to be sold to private players. As the then MP in the Lok Sabha, he had persuaded and prevailed upon NTC and Sangar Singh Vahela, the then Union Minister of Textiles, not to sell but to hand over the mills back to the government.

It was during the previous term of Chief Minister N. Rangasamy that the mills were revived, and their performance had picked up over the years. However, they had been experiencing fluctuating fortunes - a cycle of profits and losses. A competent committee should have probed the real causes of the losses – inefficient management, aimless price policies, financial indiscipline, imprudent marketing practices, plundering of public property, absence of labour participation in management, etc. The failure of the government to do so and to act immediately had led to the debacle, he said.

Locking down the units without public consultation would be undemocratic and unethical. In fact, the government had no ethical right to close these firms, as that right vests with the NTC, the labourers and the Assembly, all of whom should be consulted before taking a decision on winding up operations, Mr. Ramadass said.

He called for the constitution of a three-member committee of textile experts drawn from the Ministry of Textiles to examine the current financial and physical performance of the units and offer a package of measures to rejuvenate or modernise them. The Lt. Governor, the Chief Minister and the Industries Minister should visit the industrial sites for a first-hand assessment of the crisis. The Lt. Governor, who had appealed to the Government of India to aid the revival of AFT (Anglo-French Textiles), should make a similar request in the case of these two mills, he said.

He reiterated his suggestion for creating a large and profitable venture by merging the five textile-related mills (AFT, Swadeshi, Bharathi and Spinco in Puducherry and Jayaprakash spinning mill in Karaikal) into the Puducherry Textile Corporation. The entity should be helmed by a professional whose mandate should be to produce cloth for exports and garment-making, provide employment to 20,000 natives and generate seamless profits (non-tax revenue) for the government. A long-term loan of ₹1,000 crore could be obtained from the Asian Development Bank or the World Bank with the permission of the Centre for such an ambitious mission, Mr. Ramadass said.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 11:41:34 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/avert-shutdown-of-legacy-mills-says-mp/article65416688.ece