High Court upholds move to close down BGML

BANGALORE Sept. 26. The Karnataka High Court today set aside an order passed by a single judge quashing the decision of the Board of Industrial Finance and Reconstruction (BIFR) and the Centre to close down the Bharat Gold Mines Ltd. (BGML) at KGF.

A Division Bench comprising Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice K.L. Manjunath passed the order while allowing a batch of writ appeals filed by the BGML and the Centre challenging the order of the single judge given on March 16, 2001. The single judge had asked the BIFR to find ways to revive the BGML.

The Bench offered certain relief to employees. It asked the Centre to extend Voluntary Retirement Scheme benefits contained in the modified office memorandum of November 6, 2001, to those who had not opted for VRS earlier.

The Bench said the houses where retired employees and those in service were living could be transferred in their favour at a price of Rs. 10 per square foot if the site is less than 1,000 sq. ft.. The rate fixed for sites that measure between 1,000 sq. ft. and 2,000 sq. ft. is Rs. 20 per sq. ft. and Rs. 30 per sq. ft. if the site is more than 3,000 sq. ft.

The Bench asked the Government to formulate a scheme to provide appropriate land, machinery, and equipment to form a Workers' Cooperative so that the employees could take up a project to use the experience they gained while working in BGML. The Government was also asked to pay an interim relief of Rs. 5,000 to every employee.

The single judge had noted that a combination of deficiency in management, loopholes in administration, use of old machinery to mine gold, pilferage and other criminal activities, and failure of labour to provide 100 per cent efficiency in production, were responsible for BGML's plight.

The appellants said the single judge had erred in holding that BIFR had taken a hasty decision. In fact, the BIFR had taken eight years to decide on the BGML. They said as the company incurred a Rs. 94 crore loss in 1991-92 the matter was referred to the BIFR, which held 18 sittings to chalk out ways to revive the unit. It recommended closure of the unit on June 12, 2000, and the same was upheld by the Appellate Authority for Industrial Finance and Reconstruction on November 15, 2000. The Union Government passed an order in this.

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