Srinagar, Jan 18: At least three employees working for the Jammu and Kashmir Cements Limited breathed their last in the absence of monetary resources to treat their disease. Like many employees of the company they worked for, their salaries had remained withheld due to the financial collapse of the company.
Sources in the know revealed that the company has not been in a position to release salaries of the employees for about two years now.
Due to the non-availability of resources, the company suffered a huge financial crunch.
The Jammu and Kashmir Cements Limited (JKCL), a public sector unit (PSU), comes under Jammu and Kashmir Industries department.
According to news agency Kashmir Dot Com- (KDC) the trio were suffering from severe disease, couldn’t afford the treatment due to non-availability of money as their salaries remained pending for the last two years.
Ghulam Muhammad Bulla, a machinery attendant, became the first causality. He passed away in October 2019, leaving behind a wife and two daughters. He was the sole bread earner of the family and all members were financially dependent on Bulla.
Similarly, Mohammad Yousuf Bhat breathed last year and Nazir Ahmad Bhat too breathed only 14 days ago.
All of them were permanent employees of JKCL and were suffering from health conditions.
In the erstwhile state of J&K, JKCL was once a debt-free company, but is now defunct.
The trouble for the company began mounting since the financial year of 2013-14, so much so that the firm was on the verge of bankruptcy. The financial health of the company left futures of its around 600 employees uncertain.
Soon after its collapse, the influential employees of JKCL moved closer to bureaucrats and enjoyed proximity with the Civil Secretariat. With the result they got themselves adjusted in other government departments under the tag ‘Surplus Staff’.
The general administration department (GAD), meanwhile, has transferred almost 220 J-K Cements employees to other government departments under pick and choose policy.
According to sources, apart from GAD’s pick and choose policy. JKCL management has recommended the names of those employees only either they were close to former Managing directors or used the platform of JKCL employees association. This has left the remaining employees anxious as they feel unemployed despite being a government employee as their salaries are pending for the last two years.
Nazir Ahmad Bhat was the lone bread earner of the family but over a year of financial drought has crippled his family. “We sold part of our land and some gold to our sister which was for her marriage to pay for his treatment. Now, I don’t know how we will run the household,” said Tariq Ahmad, son of late Nazir Ahmad.
The employees who are yet to be deputed have sold land or gold to run their houses and also appeals lieutenant governor Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha to intervene in this matter. One employee wishing anonymity said that, “Rehabilitate us all so that we will get a sigh of relief and we request concerned authorities to consider the deputation of remaining employees to other departments.”
JKCL owns three cement factories. The oldest in Khrew, with a production capacity of 600 tonnes per day, has been shut since July 2018 due to mismanagement and ignorance of successive administrations.
The second factory was set up adjacent to the older one in Khrew, and also has the same production capacity on paper. But employees say this new plant at Khrew has become an albatross around the company’s neck after ‘Promac Engineering Industries’, the Bengaluru-based contractor hired to build the new plant at Khrew, bungled up the construction. “The plant has a production capacity on paper of 600 tonnes per day. But in reality it couldn’t operate beyond 350 tonnes per day,” said a staffer on the condition of anonymity.
The only factory currently open is a smaller plant in Samba district of Jammu, which has half the production capacity of the older plants.
The firm presently has a liability of almost 500 crore rupees in which amount is pending salaries to employees as well as various payments that have to be made in their favour, such as retirement gratuities, transfer of amount to their welfare and central provident funds, and insurance premiums from their pay package.
However, the former lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir G.C Murmu had suggested privatizing the JKCL after assessment of its assets in a transparent manner. (KDC)