The Madhya Pradesh government's move to provide subsidised rations to workers of closed mills under the Food Security Act has increased the woes of ex-Hukumchand Mills' workers, who have been struggling for the last 24 years to get their dues worth Rs 229 crore.
The textile mill closed in 1991 without paying dues to 5,895 workers. The dues include salary, bonus and allowances.
Of the 5,895 workers, 1,000 are dead. Under the Food Security Act, 2013, workers of closed mills are entitled to get 5 kilograms of food grains per family member at Rs 1 per kg.
To avail this, they have to produce evidence that they have worked with the mills.
Like other ex-workers of the city's seven closed textile mills, the former workers of Hukumchand mills have submitted the required dossiers to get the foodgrains.
However, the district administration and the Indore Municipal Corporation have not been prompt in issuing food slips that will make them eligible to get the rations under the act.
Though the act has been in force since last year, hardly 30% of ex-workers have received the food slips so far.
"This has doubled our woes," said daily wager and Hukumchand Mills ex-worker Shriram Chaudhary, who stays in Chhoti Kumharkhadi in Banganga area.
"On one hand, we are not getting our dues. On the other, there are delays in receiving food slips. How can we buy subsidised ration?" asked another daily wager Ramkripal, who stays in the same area.
District (food and civil) supply controller Sukriti Singh said the department had sent inspectors to the Indore Municipal Corporation to help it verify the documents submitted by ex-workers for issuing food slips.
"There are glitches, still. We're trying to address (them)," she said.
However, Goma ki Phel resident Kapuri Bai, whose husband Khushilal, a head loader in Hukumchand Mills who died in 1996, has lost faith in government assurances, fiery speeches of trade union leaders and lofty promises made by politicians.
"We are not begging. Give us our dues," vegetable seller Kapuri Bai had told HT three months ago.
The city's textile mills began shutting down from 1983 due to financial losses. Their closure was complete by 2003.
While ex-workers of the city’s other closed textile mills received their dues, former workers of Hukumchand Mills and some ex-workers of Rajkumar Mills await their payment.
About 26,000 people worked in the city's seven textile mills, of which 5,000 are dead.