Curtains have virtually come down for the century old Swadheshi-Bharathi and Anglo French Textile Mills with the Centre allocating around Rs 40 crore as additional expenditure under the head of Industries Department for providing compensation to the mill employees in the vote on account passed by the Parliament for the Union Territory.
According to an official source, in the vote on account a sum of Rs 40 crore had been set aside to provide closure compensation, gratuity and Provident Fund arrears to around 170 employees of Swadheshi-Bharathi and 700 of the AFT workforce.
“Now, there is no ambiguity in the closure issue. The mill management had already submitted a proposal for providing the compensation to the employees. The attempt will be first to provide closure compensation, gratuity and PF. The budgeted amount will not be completely enough to provide the human compensation. We will also have to find resources to clear the liabilities for loans taken by the mills from banks and PIPDIC,” a senior official said.
Once all the liabilities are cleared, the government will be left with several options, that is either to revive the mill after modernisation or utilise the vast area of land available with the mill for viable projects. In the New Bus Stand area itself, the mills owned around 60 to 70 acre of land, the official said adding the onus would be on the next government to take a responsible decision.
The closure of the mills remained a very contentious issue between the former Lt Governor Kiran Bedi and previous Congress government with the elected government taking strong objection to the closure decision mooted by Bedi based on the Vijayan Committee report.
The government and mainstream political parties were all in favour of providing VRS scheme and then reviving the mills as functioning of the mills remained a sentimental issue for a large number of people in the UT. Hundreds of families in UT were dependent on the mills for their earnings till a few years ago.