Mumbai’s mill lands have given the Centre a way to boost the struggling textiles sector. The National Textile Corporation (NTC) is locking up joint ventures with large private corporations to develop manufacturing units and textile retail outlets on four mills in the city — Apollo Mills (4 acres) at Chinchpokli, United Mills No. 1 (7 acres) near Dadar, New City Mills (7 acres) at Kalachowkie and Gold Mohur Mills (7 acres) at Parel.
Together, these mills occupy land that’s one and a half times the size of Oval Maidan.
NTC will probably partner with the Bhaskar Group, a media giant; Alok Group, a textile
major; and retail major Future Group, which owns Pantaloons. NTC will hold a 51 per cent stake in the joint venture, ensuring a steady stream of profits that can be funnelled back into the textiles sector.
Union Textiles Minister Shankersinh Vaghela told HT: “We hope to boost the textile trade through the joint ventures. The business model was developed as per Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction guidelines.”
Senior NTC officials said the projects would also have a “purely commercial” component, to ensure financial viability, though it was not clear whether that would mean residential or commercial space.
A voluntary retirement scheme is being drawn up for the 2,000 workers of the struggling textile units that the four mills house, said Datta Iswalkar, of the Girni Kamghar Sangharsh Samiti, a labour union.
NTC has used mills lands to raise funds earlier too, though it was mainly through sale of the properties. It used to own 17 mills in Mumbai, of which it sold five to private developers to raise Rs 2,000 crore. The sales were the main trigger of the transformation of Central Mumbai's industrial wastelands into prime residential and commercial projects.
NTC now hopes to sell four other mills - Madhusudan Mill, Poddar Processors, Bharat Textile Mill, all at Worli, and Finlay Mill at Parel. The sales are stuck because of a court case over the heritage structures in these mills.