People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 23

June 09, 2013



Kanpur Fertiliser Workers Live up to Expectations


EVER since the sanction of a draft rehabilitation scheme for the erstwhile Duncans Industries Ltd by the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) on January 16, 2012, the workers of the enterprise have been working untiringly, leaving no stone unturned for the revival and restoration of the plant, equipments and all connected facilities for an early start up of production.  Affiliated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and supported by an overwhelming majority of the Duncans workers, the recognised IEL Employees Union had played an important role in the revival process, based on its memorandum of settlement dated June 6, 2010, with the Kanpur Fertilisers & Cement Limited (KFCL), earlier known as the Duncans Industries Limited (DIL).


It was therefore quite natural that the DIL workers felt excessively jubilant when they saw the prills of urea falling at 6.21 a m on May 27, 2013 from the third production stream. Production at the Kanpur Fertiliser had remained suspended first from March 25, 2002 to July 2005 due to retrospective recovery of subsidy and again from October 18, 2005 due to stoppage of naptha supply from the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). Thus the restart of urea fertiliser production from the stream number 3 of the erstwhile Duncans Industries Ltd, and now the Kanpur Fertilisers & Cement Limited at Kanpur, was by no means an ordinary achievement, particularly after its virtual closure for over more than a decade. It was something unique and unparalleled. Revival and rehabilitation of a closed vintage fertiliser factory of the sixties is really a massive exercise, and that too with all possible safeguards, new technological upgradations, modifications and conversion to natural gas as the feedstock. At present, production has commenced only from one plant after its conversion to the gas feedstock. The other two plants are also expected to be converted into gas based plants by July 2013.


There also remains the fact that if only the department of fertilisers (DOF), in the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers of the government of India, had given permission to the KFCL to resume production immediately after the sanction of the revival scheme on the existing basis of naptha as the feedstock, all the three production streams would have gone into production long back. Despite all the readiness to restart urea production from naptha at the KFCL, the government of India has till date not given permission for it. In fact, the government went back on its own declared policy and commitment to issue permission to resume production of urea, and to allow, compute and reimburse the payment of subsidy to the KFCL on the existing basis of naptha as the feedstock, as was confirmed and communicated by the DOF officials during the hearing before the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction. However, in spite of the repeated directions and recent ultimatum from the BIFR in the hearing held on April 25, 2013 to issue necessary permission within a period of 15 days and to report the compliance thereof before May 15, 2013, the department of fertilisers has not given the permission in terms of the sanctioned scheme and the BIFR order dated April 25, 2013. The question is: how could the government act against its own declared policy and against the statutorily binding directions of the BIFR?


Being an essential and controlled commodity, the production of urea fertiliser, its energy norms, retention price, allocation, distribution, dispatches and payment of subsidy etc, each and every thing is governed and controlled by the government. Thus, none else but the government of India is responsible for the wilful obstructions and delay in the restarting of production from the other two plants of the KFCL. The government is not allowing utilisation of the exiting urea production capacity on the basis of naptha as the feedstock, even after the direction and sanction by the BIFR.


While detailing all these facts and figures at a general meeting of the IEL Employees Union on May Day, its general secretary, Arvind Kumar, also informed that the KFCL has so far invested over Rs 1200 crore and has also conceded an interim wage hike of Rs 6000 per month to all Duncans employees on the rolls of the KFCL, with effect from April 1, 2013.