Hukumchand mill crisis: Land auction fails to attract buyers

  • Vinit, Hindustan Times, Indore
  • Updated: Jul 11, 2016 15:11 IST
Thousands of mill workers continue to agitate for getting their dues. (HT file photo)

The 5,895 ex-workers of Hukumchand textile mills in Indore may have to wait more to get their dues recovered as the auction of the 42.49 acres of mill land has failed to attract buyers for the third time.

The auctions were earlier scheduled in 2012 and 2014 and this year in July 11. The last date for tenders was July 8. But, all of them reportedly failed due to non-interest of the buyers. Experts said the major deterrent to the auction seems to be the government’s reluctance to get the industrial land changed to commercial use as it is situated in the prime location.

The mill was closed in 1991 and the land was put up for auction by the debt recovery tribunal (DRT) to pay off the dues of workers and creditors. The cumulative dues of the workers amount to Rs 229 crore and that of the creditors to Rs 552 crore (as demanded by them now). It was Rs 169 crore in 2006, when Rs 420 crore was set as the reserve price for the land.

Indore Mill Mazdoor Sangh treasurer Harnam Singh Dhariwal, said, “The DRT officials told him over phone that no one has filled the tender form till July 8. We have requested the DRT to extend the last date of forms till the date of auction.”

Govt must change land use to commercial: Expert

According to financial experts, given the geographical location of the land in city, it would only be beneficial for anybody to purchase the land if its land use is changed to commercial. They said the market price of the land would go up to Rs 1,500 crore if the land use is changed to commercial.

“If DRT has to pay off such a huge amount to the stakeholders, the land should be allowed to put in commercial use by making amendments to its land use policy by the state government,” said an expert.

Some company representatives had come to see the property in the last week of June, but they seem to have changed their mind because of government’s attitude in the whole process, said Dhariwal.

No concrete steps taken to sell off land despite CM’s assurance

The chief minister has assured on several instances that the government is concerned about the aggrieved workers and it has taken in-principle approval from state cabinet to sell off the land, but no concrete steps seem to be taken in this regard, he said.

In Swadeshi Mill land case too, the National Textile Corporation (NTC) has conducted auction and sold the land, but state government did not change its land-use; recently a portion of the land was snatched from the company for construction of road, which resulted in heavy loss to the buyer.

If state government adopts such an attitude, no buyer will come forward to purchase the land, a worried Dhariwal said.

Over 1,500 mill workers out of the total 5,895 have passed away waiting to receive their dues in past 25 years. Many have attained old age, and are counting last days of their lives, said Dhariwal adding that now their kin will receive their dues.

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