Labour minister mediates to solve Durgapur paper mill crisis

State Labour Minister Moloy Ghatak speaking to media after the meeting

Days after the owner of an upcoming paper mill in Durgapur stopped work allegedly after falling victim to extortion by the Trinamool Congress backed syndicate, State Labour Minister intervened to help resolve the crises. On last 22 August the Jammu-based company issued notice of work suspension at the paper mill unit at a village near Durgapur.

The matter sparked off sensation as the upcoming paper mill unit near Durgapur city suspended construction work at a time when chief minister Mamata Banerjee was at Singapore to court investment in Bengal.

State Labour Minister Moloy Ghatak speaking to media after the meeting

The factory authority however didn’t register any complaint against the syndicate members. Mr Babu Khandelwal, the owner of Star Industries that purchased the closed Maa Chandi Paper Mill for Rs 2.75 crore in June last year said: “I was going to invest Rs 25 crore here but as it appears that West Bengal is not an investment-friendly state and I would shift the unit elsewhere.”

State Labour Minister Mr Moloy Ghatak invited the managerial staffs of the proposed paper unit in Laodoha, 25 km from Durgapur city. Mr Ardhendu Hazra on behalf of the proposed unit met the minister at Kolkata yesterday and later said: “There was no political problem as such and the minister has asked us to initiate construction work. We have planned to invest Rs 25 crore there.”

Mr Moloy Ghatak, labour minister said: “I have told the police and block administration in Laudoha, Durgapur to look into the matter.”

Babu Khandelwal, the owner of the mill however said: “I am at Jammu now and I shall consider resumption of construction work only after I return.”

Syndicates supplying construction material have mushroomed in the Asansol-Durgapur belt over the past few years. Most syndicates function under the label of “welfare society” and have local unemployed youths as members.

Most of the youths running the syndicates owe allegiance to the present party in power. Sources said the business is so lucrative that it thrives in the Asansol-Durgapur area despite a recent Trinamool circular asking functionary against getting involved in the trade.

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