The reopening of three textile mills in Mumbai has inspired hope that a few other sick mills may also see a revival.
The National Textile Corporation (NTC) still has 13 of 25 mills and chances are a couple of them may begin operations again.
“Our board will take the decision after studying the scenario. It is too early to say anything right now because we have just taken this bold initiative,” said an NTC officer, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the media.
The NTC has also entered into joint ventures with private players to restart four other mills in Mumbai.
This could bring the erstwhile mill belt to life again. An 1982 mill strike led to the death of Mumbai’s textile industry.
Lakhs of workers in the Lalbaug-Parel-Dadar, known as girangaon [land of mills] stretch lost their jobs and were left fighting to retain their homes.
Defunct mills were turned into malls, and south-central Mumbai was transformed into a business district and plush residential address. Homes here are now sold for anything between Rs 10,000 and Rs 12,000 a square foot.
Last year, the NTC decided to sell off some mills and use the proceeds to revive other sick units.
The Rs 130 crore for modernising Tata mills (Hindmata), India United Mills No.5 (Kalachowkie) and Podar mills (Chinchpokli) came from the sale of five other mills.
“Modernisation will improve the quality of cloth and consumers will get the best available fabric,” V.D. Zope, NTC’s officer in charge, told Hindustan Times.
Trade unions, however, are not celebrating yet. “We welcome the move but we do not trust the NTC,” said Datta Ishwalkar, president, Girni Kamgar Bachao Samiti, which has been fighting for the rights of mill workers.