PUDUCHERRY: The Management of the Anglo French Textiles (AFT) has initiated steps to sell three properties that it owns in order to settle the retirement benefits, including Gratuity and Provident Fund, of 1,076 workers.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Chairman of Pondicherry Textile Corporation Limited V Bhalan said that the decision to sell the lands was taken after the Division Bench of the Madras HC ruled that there was no need to get permission of the Centre to sell the mill’s land (property of the government of Puducherry).
Bhalan said that a meeting of the Board of Directors of the AFT mill will be held in the next two days to prepare a plan for the sale of land belonging to the mill in three places. The AFT mill owns 55 acres of land at Pattannur in Villupuram, 1.75 acres at Thirubhuvanai and 0.25 acres at Thengaithittu, Bhalan revealed and added that the total Guideline Register Values (GLR) of the properties will be Rs 73.38 crore.
He said that the retirement benefits of 1,076 workers could not be disbursed since 2008 as the mill was not functioning. After he took over in 2012, it was decided to sell the mill’s lands to settle the dues, following an agreement with the workers’ unions. Bhalan said that the Puducherry government was approached for permission, but the management was asked to consult the law department, which directed it to approach the Central government and get the necessary permission. (The Ministry of Home Affairs is yet to give a go-ahead for the sale of land as the Union Finance Ministry is yet to give its nod.)
In the meantime, the retired workers approached the Madras High Court with a writ petition. Following this, on December 21 last year, a Division Bench of the HC, citing an earlier judgement, ordered that the Puducherry Textile Corporation had the powers to sell the lands and Centre’s permission was not required.