Minor boiler malfunction leads to abrupt shutdown of Sopur fertilizer plant, union alleges irregularities
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, Dec 13: Some fifty employees of the Assam State Fertilizer & Chemicals Limited located at Sopur have been left in the lurch after the PSU was shut down abruptly in May this year.
The electric boiler in the plant was malfunctioning, a reason cited by the magement for the closure, but workers said the defect could have been fixed easily.
The workers’ union has submitted several memorandums to authorities – from the deputy commissioner, Industry department officials to the Industry minister – but to no avail.
Fourteen striking employees of the plant have been sacked, while the others have not received salaries, or for that matter other dues like arrears and bonus, for nearly two years now.
The workers were shocked at the decision to close down the plant as they claim that it was running on profit.
“Before the closure, there were some abnormal developments. Between December last year and March this year, around 298 metric tonnes of finished products had disappeared from the plant premises. Several consignments of products were also procured by buyers through forged cheques. The government had sanctioned Rs 1.5 lakh for safety magement measures. Nobody knows where that amount was utilized,” said a representative of the union.
The major market products of the PSU are sulphuric acid and green sulphur fertilizer. Set up in 1988, the plant once had a turnover of over Rs 2.5 crore.
Sources said that just before the closure of the plant, the NRL was paid Rs 60 lakh for procurement of raw materials. The raw materials are now lying at the mrup fertilizer plant.
The workers said if the boiler in the plant is not repaired, the catalyst in the equipment may also get damaged soon.
“Though the manpower requirement in the plant is 260, only 50 employees were employed. There were no engineers. The work was being done by skilled workers,” said another member of the union.