Call to revive closed industrial units of Kumoan hills
Pithoragarh, Dec 11
Following the conclusion of investment summit 2023, in Dehradun last week with promised investment of whopping three lakh crores in various fields in the state, Congress leaders of Kumaon region have demanded that if government is actually serious in giving employment to rural youths of the hill region, it should plan to reopen the old industrial establishments in the hills which were srated four decades ago but now lying closed and defunct.
“We had three factories, producing Dead Burnt Magnesite (DBM) in Pithoragarh, named Magnesite and Mineral Ltd, Himalayan Magnesite Limited and Bharat Refectories Ltd, and all three factories used to provide direct and indirect employment to over 10000 people in the district. These factories functioned till the industrialists used to get attractive subsidies on transport, excise and other heads and the day subsidies closed, the owners closed the factories in the name of non sale of DBM, NGT objections and disturbances caused by locals in the smooth functioning of these plants,” said C.M. Awasthi, a former chemist with M&M and now a day fighting court case to recover dues of workers.
“The M&M factory at Chandak hill, was established in the year 1980 after 7 years of mining of Manganese started from 1974, but the factory stopped finally in the year 1997,” said Awasthi.
The presence of Magnesium Oxide, Silika and Aluminium like metals in stones of these mines was nearly 84 percent, more than that of stones dug in other contemporary Magnesite mines of India but despite these facts, the factory was closed citing reasons related to market. “The main reason seems stopping of various subsidies like capital subsidy, transport subsidy and excise relief given to owners by government as these subsidies used to be given only till the unit gets fully established,” said Awasthi.
“After the owners closed the factory, none other than workers protested as 300 permanent workers and same number of ad-hoc workers were unemployed through whom a sum of Rs 30 lakh used to flow to local market every month,” said Awasthi.
Another Magnesite factories established in Pithoragarh after 1980, were Himalayan Magnesite Limited at Tarigaon and Bharat Refectories at Dewalthal, all three were closed one by one after running for more than 20 years.” While the personel land belonged to factory owners has been auctioned by banks to recover loans, the land on lease has been allocated to RTO office by the state government,” said Hayat Chand, a resident of Tarigaon village and former chairperson of Pithoragarh District Cooperative Bank.
CM Awasthi demanded that whichever industry gets established anywhere in the hill region, the government should give ensure that it provides permanent job to workers.
In Almora, the biggest manufacturing unit, Alps Drug factory, that employed over 500 technical and non technical workers directly, got closed in 2019 resulting in unemployment to over 2000 persons including direct, indirect workers and shopkeepers dependent on them. “Not only this well marketed drug factory, but another drug factory at Ganiadholi at Ranikhet, a medium size woollen factory and several other small factories closed in the district during corona epidemic and could not recover till date,” said Chandra Shekhar Dwivedi a journalist based in Almora.
Champawat district, where a wine factory is proposed out of investment in 2023 investment meet in the state, is also witness to closure of several industrial units, including the turpentine factory owned by Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam(KMVN), which closed three decades ago due to non availability of raw material.”It is best example of government’s policy towards local units, where the quota of resin was stopped while the bigger unit in Bareilly in UP got more resin,” said Dinesh Pandey, a journalist based in Champawaat.
“There are several big industrial units like HMT, and Hiltron factories in Nainital district, that are closed from last 30 or 40 years, and no government after the formation of Uttarakhand had tried to know reasons of their closure, and revive these. The local youth who once dreamt of getting employment nearer their homes, left from villages as most of these industrial units closed but the state governments had been offering new places to industrialists in every investment summits in the past years. Firstly,we will have to work towards making these investments permanent to stop migration from hilly regions,” said C.M. Awasthi.
“ The state government should have tried to revive these dead units in the hills in a bid to revive employment and economy of the hilly districts,” said Mahendra Singh Lunthi, a senior Congress leader of Kumoan.The Congress leaders held a demonstration in front of the Dead Burnt Magnesite (DBM) at Chandak in Pithoragarh recently to seek revival of these dead industrial units in the region.