Shimla: Opposing the government’s move to privatise the Agro Industrial Packaging India Limited (AIPIL) carton factory at Gumma, the Himachal Kisan Sabha on Friday alleged that privatisation of the unit would symbolise the government’s eagerness to shirk away from social responsibility towards the farmer and horticulturists.
Addressing media persons, president of Himachal Kisan Sabha (HKS), Tikender Singh Panwar said that AIPIL had become a loss making unit because efforts were never put in by successive governments for its healthy operation. He claimed that since 1987 the factory capacity remained underutilized, thus raising the cost of production of the cartons. The cartons produced here are used in districts Shimla, Solan, Kullu, Mandi, Kangra, Kinnaur and Chamba, by fruit growers.
Shimla district president of the HKS Sanjay Chauhan said that one of the motives to set up the factory was to create a buffer by the government for stabilization of carton prices in the open market. “Selling off the factory to private players would result in rise of price of cartons in the state and horticulturists would be badly affected,” he added.
The AIPIL carton factory was set up at Gumma in Kotkhai tehsil of district Shimla in 1989. The installed capacity of the plant was to manufacture 180 lakh cartons for apple and other horticulture produce, but the plant was underutilized to such an extent that only three to four per cent of the capacity was produced.
Gumma carton factory privatization opposed
This factory has been in news for all the wrong reasons ever since it commenced operations. The subsidy provided earlier was misused by the officials. There was no work culture at the establishment. The employee used to be on a "paid holiday" for 9 months a year where they used to be at there homes and got paid during there absence. This has a stinking work ethics and culture. To say that it used to stabilize market price of cartons is a misnomer. It never produced cartons to its capacity and these were distributed among the favorites. Other farmers had to rely on private companies to meet the demand. Shimla distt. have a good set up of co-operatives but I never found that these co-operatives could procure cartons from APIL. There was always shortage there.
The company only focussed on Apple cartons and had a locational disadvantage being based at Gumma where it could not cater to the industry and other fruit growers. This factory was a result of whim and fancy of the King who used to fight election then from Kotkhai and gifted this factory to his constituency without going into the economics and viability of the venture.
Losses amounting to 57 crore is a whopping amount of tax payers money. Those opposing the sale of the factory have not come out with a plan to revive this sick unit. Merely opposing for the sake of opposing makes good headlines but poor economics!
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