Revive industry bellwether

Revive industry bellwether

The movement for separate State of Telangana centred around three basic issues – water, funds and jobs.

The movement for separate State of Telangana centred around three basic issues – water, funds and jobs. The revival of many sick and closed industries is critical for jobs generation and therefore was a major campaign issue both during the Telangana movement and in the run-up to subsequent elections to Telangana legislature.

The TRS drove to power on many such promises that include revival of Nizam Deccan Sugars Limited (NDSL) through State takeover. This is essential to protect the interests of sugar factory workers and sugar cane growers in Nizamabad, Medak and Karimnagar districts. Besides, the revival of NDSL symbolises the Telangana pride on which TRS has always claimed a unilateral patent.

As the State government remains a passive spectator, the NDSL management declared layoffs in three of its units much to the consternation and commotion of thousands of factory workers and cane growers. The failure of the State government to take over this 77-year-old factory, which was once Asia's second largest sugar factory, represents a betrayal by TRS. The layoff is not a surprising development. The intransigence of the management was evident right from the beginning. The crisis precipitated as the government failed to act in time.

The layoff is the first time in nearly decades of the factory's history. The management is giving lame excuses to defend its unpopular action. The claim that they could not run the factories due to inadequate raw material and water is just deceptive. In fact, the government diverted cane from these areas to private factories for crushing. Thus the question of non-availability of raw material, cited as a reason for layoff, does not simply arise.

The workers and farmers have been undertaking different forms of protests for last several weeks. But, the government simply absolved itself of responsibility through eye wash measures like appointment of a committee while there was a need for swift action to take over the factories. Instead, the government came forward to assist the farmers if they could run the factory on their own. But, this was certainly not the electoral promise of TRS.

Given the turn of the developments, the allegations of collusion between the government and the private management cannot be dismissed outright. The TRS promised to take over the NDSL within 100 days of coming to power. But, now the management could declare layoff only due to the government laxity, if not connivance. The management had not been paying salaries to workers and dues to farmers for last few months. The government thus had ample time to act.

The earlier Congress and the TDP governments were also equally culpable in weakening this industry bellwether. The then TDP government handed over the prestigious company to Delta Sugars allegedly for a pittance. The Congress government that succeeded failed to implement the recommendation of House Committee for State takeover.

The revival of Nizam Sugars has a potential to provide for crushing of about 10 lakh tonnes of sugarcane, facilitating the agricultural and industrial development of Telangana, which is essential to herald golden Telangana. But, the government is squandering away a golden opportunity.

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