Siliguri, Jan. 3: The inauguration of the packaged drinking water unit of Himul was deferred today after differences arose over the viability of the project.
The unit shares the same site — 10km from here — as the milk plant owned by Himalayan Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Ltd (Himul).
Differences between the Citu and the Intuc, the two major workers’ unions at the plant, was the reason why the opening was called off, a Himul official said.
“The agreement between the private company (Auspicious Aqua Pure Private Limited) that will set up the unit and the government was not transparent. We don’t want any new project to hamper the normal functioning of the existing plant,” said Alok Mitra, the secretary of the Intuc-affiliated Himul Employees’ Association.
“Earlier, several projects had been launched to revive the ailing milk plant, but none of them succeeded. We don’t want a repetition of that,” Mitra added.
The Citu-affiliated Dairy Farm Mazdoor Union alleged that the rival union does not want the milk plant to prosper.
“Although it is a joint venture, Himul will get rent for the land. The remaining infrastructure, including the machines and the office-building, belongs to Auspicious,” said S.K. Tarua, the general secretary of the Dairy Farm Mazdoor Union. “The private entrepreneur, which has invested around Rs 3 crore, is also going to pay Rs 50,000 per month to Himul as royalty.”
The unit was set up on 14 cottah of land and was supposed to produce around 3,000 to 5,000l drinking water everyday. R.N. Goyal, the managing director of the company, refused comment.
However, Rajesh Pandey, the Darjeeling district magistrate and the chairman of the milk plant, said: “Currently, managing director of Himul Anupam Barman is out of station for a personal reason. We will finalise the inauguration date after he returns.”