The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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L&T gets back on track

Durgapur, July 19: Cement maker Larsen & Toubro resumed normal operations at its factory here today after the town mayor, senior CPM leaders and police persuaded the local truck owners’ association to sit for talks.

The unit, which has a capacity of producing a million tonnes of cement a year, was forced to stop production after goons, apparently linked to the truck owners, roughed up two transport contractors and factory officials early yesterday.

A group of hooligans, who had laid siege to the factory gates, had been attacking vehicles going in and coming out of the unit since Tuesday when the company enforced a reduction of transport costs by 15 per cent. With local truck owners refusing to agree to the reduced rates, transport contractors had stopped hiring their vehicles, triggering the crisis.

Last evening, the corporation, the police, transport contractors and the factory management met to thrash out a solution. Company officials made their position clear, saying normality must be restored before they sat down with the disgruntled truck owners in the presence of the mayor and the additional superintendent of police (Durgapur).

“Normality has returned to L&T. I have urged all political parties and local people to keep normality in the factories here and also to encourage industrialists to set up industries,” mayor Rathin Roy said.

Bhupesh Kapoor, vice-president, Larsen & Toubro, had yesterday said in Calcutta that production had not been stopped because of the problem. “It is the despatch that has been hampered,” he said, alleging that the transporters were not allowing the company to despatch the products through rail routes.

But the problem with the transporters’ union had been sorted out, at least for now, Kapoor said. The company, he added, had reduced the transport rate based on prevailing oil prices.

State home secretary Amit Kiran Deb said he has instructed the district administration to crack down on any kind of unrest in and around the factory. “We will make sure that L&T has no reason for any complaints in future,” he said.

“We have urged the police and the district administration to take steps to apprehend the trouble-makers and initiate action against them,” CPM leader Biprendu Chakraborty said.

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