Another election is round the corner, but for the people of MAMC (Mining and Allied Machinery Corporation Ltd) Township in Durgapur, big talks of reopening of the company remains an elusive dream. People of the now dilapidated MAMC Township, also known as Viswakarma Nagar have virtually lost all hopes of MAMC reopening once again. The issue of MAMC is all set to be a major subject in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election.
History of MAMC
MAMC – the first heavy machinery manufacturing PSU in the country was set up in 1965 with Soviet co-operation to make equipment for various mining industries. Later MAMC diversified into manufacturing, erection and commissioning of bulk material handling plants and coal washeries. The company that was once the pride of Durgapur slipped into the red and was referred to the BIFR in 1992.
In 1995, when the BIFR ordered its closure, it was CITU; the labour wing of CPI (M) approached the high court and obtained a stay order. However, in 1998, when the Government offered a voluntary separation scheme (VSS), 50% of the 4000 odd workers took the offer.
Matters came to a head when the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment in 2000 announced the decision to close down MAMC and five other PSUs under the Industrial Disputes Act. Under this law, the closure will not have to go through the long-twined BIFR procedure. The decision was followed by two successive VSS offer which saw the number of employees getting reduced to a little over 1000 from 4,217 in 1996-97. MAMC was wound up in 2001; all its employees had to leave the company through a golden handshake scheme.
In 2003, the assets were transferred to the official liquidator with a total liability of Rs 2,800 crore. On 5th October 2005 decision of shutting down MAMC was officially taken.
The entire MAMC Township was handed over to ADDA in 2003 by the liquidators after the Calcutta High Court, responding to an appeal made by the CITU passed an order allowing the retrenched employees of the company to enjoy occupancy at the company quarters on humanitarian grounds. The MAMC had 4153 quarters stretched across 97 acres of the township, out of which 2494 were occupied by the employees at the time of the company’s closure.
Hopes of revival of MAMC
Constant persuasion by the Durgapur Sk. Saidul Haque and initiative by the former Left Front government in Bengal saw the formation of a consortium of Coal India (CIL), Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) and Bharat Earth Movers (BEML). Even former Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mr. Buddhadev Bhattacharya took direct interest in opening this unit of Durgapur by the earliest.
The consortium took over MAMC in June 2010 by giving the highest bid of 100 crore. With a 48 per cent shareholding, BEML will have management control of MAMC, while DVC and CIL will have a 26 per cent stake each.
Reopening hopes becoming distant dream
Then it was the time of upheaval in Bengal politics. 34 years of Left regime ended and Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress assumed power in Bengal.
In January 2012, hopes were raised further when V.R.S. Natarajan, chairman and managing director of BEML Ltd. said, that the shareholders’ agreement will be signed before March 31 this year between the three companies that formed the consortium.
Mr. Natarajan however informed that the consortium which has got only 195-acre plot on which the MAMC plant is located on a lease for 90 years has asked the state government for another 100 acres out of the 400 acres of MAMC Township.
He also said that they have informed the then Bengal Industries minister Partha Chatterjee that if the land is made available to them they can go forward with their plan of reviving production at MAMC by the earliest. Mr. Natarajan raised the hope further when he said: “We are going to hire all former employees of MAMC, who are still below 65 years of age.”
In July 2012 Coal India and Damodar Valley (DVC) have informed their decision to give half of their equipment orders awarded through the tendering route to MAMC, paving the way for the revival of the public sector entity. The BEML, CIL and DVC will pump in close to Rs 150 crore, Rs 75 crore and Rs 75 crore respectively as their equity contribution in the MAMC.
But since then almost 2 years have elapsed but the fate of MAMC is yet to brighten up. The 100 acres of additional land which the consortium has asked for from the Trinamool Congress led Bengal government is yet to be fulfilled. The people of MAMC Township are in a state of botheration about whether the company will again be able start production.
Not only for the people of MAMC Township but for the people of the entire Durgapur, the issue of reopening MAMC is all set play a major role. The failure of the state government to kick start productions in MAMC has already been clinched by the Left Front in its campaign. The TMC supporters and leaders are facing uncomfortable questions on the failure.
Even TMC candidate for the Bardhaman-Durgapur Lok Sabha seat, Dr. Mumtaz Sanghamita Chowdhury during her poll campaign in Durgapur had no definite solution when asked how she would tackle the issue.
The dilapidated condition of the MAMC Township which is presently under Asansol Durgapur Development Authority (ADDA) makes everyone feels sad. The once vibrant MAMC Township which was referred as the best in the region is now in a sorry state.
In 2003, the MAMC Township was handed over to ADDA by the liquidators following an order of the High Court on a case filed by CITU. ADDA, which was at that time under the control of the former Left Front government, after receiving possession of the township asked for the security deposit to be handed over to them and filed a suit in High Court. The amount was raised as security deposit from the former employees for their occupancy at the MAMC quarters at the company township.
In August-September last year, the High Court ordered the court appointed liquidators to hand over the security deposit to ADDA. The three court appointed liquidators following the Calcutta High Court order returned INR 1.28 Crores to ADDA. But even after receiving the amount, the ADDA authority has not even taken any step towards betterment of the MAMC Township.
The dilapidated MAMC Township is another major issue in this year’s Lok Sabha poll for the electorate of Bardhaman-Durgapur Lok Sabha seat.