Employees suspect foul play in SCL takeover by private firm

Employees suspect foul play in SCL takeover by private firm
Employees suspect foul play in SCL takeover by private firm

The Steel Complex Employees Coordination Committee suspects the role of land mafia in the recent takeover of SAIL-SCL Kerala Limited at Cheruvannur by a private firm, even as the company was under the rule of a Receiver. The employees have also alleged the ministers of Industry and Public Works departments betraying their trust that the company would be protected by the State government.

“Industries Minister P. Rajeeve and Public Works Minister PA Mohamed Riyas had promised us that the government would do the necessary to protect the company. But now the government is even ready to handover its shares to Chattisgarh Outsourcing Services that is taking over the steel complex,” K. Shaji, convenor of the committee told The Hindu. He said the company had become a scapegoat for the lack of understanding between Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and the Kerala government.

“The State government always blamed SAIL for its neglect. On the other hand, SAIL has clarified that the State did not keep its word that TMT bars from the steel complex will be used for PWD works in the State by default. The Public Works Minister, who is also the local MLA, could have made it possible to remove it easily,” Mr. Shaji alleged. It was in 2011 that SCL and SAIL jointly procured a loan of ₹45 crore from Canara Bank for the construction of a re-rolling mill.

However, the company could not clear the debt that has multiplied to ₹104 crore by 2023. In April 2023, the company under the management of Receiver Anish Agarwal started proceedings for its sale based on the request of Canara Bank to the National Company Law Tribunal . “The Receiver’s actions were suspicious as advertisement for the company’s sale was published in only one newspaper in Malappuram district. The firm that has taken over the company for ₹30 crore, is known for its real estate related activities. Therefore we are apprehensive about the future of the company and the land, which actually costs ten times more,” Mr. Shaji said. On the other hand, the committee is also concerned about the welfare of the employees of SCL. Where there were around 1,500 employees at a time, the company has only around 30 at present. “We only want job security for current employees and ample benefits for those who have retired,” Mr. Shaji added. The committee has decided to move the court against the take over.

Meanwhile, Elamaram Kareem, MP, who was instrumental in roping in SAIL for the upliftment of SCL, has regretted the take over. “I shall consult the Industries Minister and do the necessary,” he said. On the other hand, Kozhikode MP MK Raghavan has issued a statement that he has consulted Union Minister for Steel Jyotiraditya Sindhya seeking a solution to the issue.

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