The Centre today approved the closure of a corporation involved in developing and managing forestry plantations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
"The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the closure of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Forest and Plantation Development Corporation Limited, Port Blair, a central government undertaking, and discharging the liabilities of all the employees," an official statement said.
The closure would help stop unproductive loans to ANIFPDCL in Port Blair from the Government of India and would enable the more productive utilisation of assets, the statement said.
This would be achieved by offering a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) or Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) package to willing employees and by retrenchment under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, of those not opting for VRS/VSS.
At present, the corporation has 836 employees.
The closure would be done by infusing funds of Rs 125.72 crore through budgetary support from the Government of India for funding VSS of all employees on 2007 notional pay scales and for discharging other liabilities, the statement said.
There will be a write-off of government loans of Rs.
186.83 crore given to ANIFPDCL and accrued interest of Rs 185.18 crore with freezing of interest as on March 31, 2017, after the closure of the corporation.
The closure would also be done by auction of movable assets -- plant and machinery, electrical equipment, vehicles and office equipment, furniture and fixture, elephant and livestock, plantation and other inventories etc -- of ANIFPDCL through Metal Scrap Trading Corporation Ltd. (MSTC Ltd).
"The Environment Ministry will transfer or sell immovable assets -- land and or buildings of ANIFPDCL through NBCC Ltd," it said.
The ANIFPDCL was set up in 1977 with the objective of development and managing forestry plantations in the Islands.
The ANIFPDCL has been operating three main projects - Forestry Project, Red Oil Palm Project (ROP) and Katchal Rubber Project (KRP).
Forestry operations were the main activities of the corporation and contributed around 75 per cent of the total revenue.
"Due to suspension of the forestry activities in view of the order dated October 10, 2001, and May 7, 2002 of Supreme Court, the ANIFPDCL has become an overall loss making venture since 2001. As a result, the ANIFPDCL was not able to pay salary and wages to its employees.
"In order to ensure disbursement of salary to the employees of the corporation, and other statutory payments, the GoI provided financial assistance to the ANIFPDCL in the form of interest bearing loan," the statement said.
During the last fifteen years, various committees were appointed and professional agencies were engaged by the ministry from time to time and they have thoroughly examined all possible avenues that could be used for the revival of the forest corporation.
"Based on those decisions, several proposals were examined, but none of them fructified. After a thorough examination, the Government of India decided to close down the corporation," the statement added.