NEW DELHI/CHENNAI: In a glimmer of hope for the 8,000-odd retrenched workers of Nokia’s handset facility in Chennai and a fillip to local manufacturing, the Prime Minister on Tuesday disclosed his government’s intent to restart the Sriperumbudur plant.
Narendra Modi was replying to 14 hours of riveting debate in the Rajya Sabha on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address to Parliament.
The Central government, the PM told the Upper House, was “making efforts to see that the Nokia unit in Chennai, which shut down last year, restarts soon”. Blaming the UPA government for the fiasco, he asserted that his government would try its best to get the plant up and running once again. “It was not because of us but because of policies of the previous government… We are trying to revive that facility,” the PM told the House, adding, “If we have to create jobs, we will have to promote the idea of Make in India. We will have to focus on infrastructure development.”
Nokia’s Chennai plant, which is one of the largest in the world, was shut down due to a tax tussle with the State and the Centre on retrospective taxation and asset freeze.
Leaders of the Nokia India Employees Union, the representative body for the 8,000-odd workers of the plant, said on Tuesday that the PM’s assurance was an encouraging sign. “If the plant is actually reopened, either under Nokia or some other OMC, it would be a godsend for us,” said M Saravanakumar, president of the NIEU.
According to Saravanakumar, nearly all the workers rendered jobless by the closure of the plant still remain unemployed, primarily due to the lack of jobs suitable to their skill sets.