Monday, 30th October 2017

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19 years of waiting, watching a dream turn to rust

Let down in the past, Incab employees have lost faith in their vote’s ability to revive company

By Pinaki Majumdar in Jamshedpur
  • Published 1.12.19, 1:40 AM
  • Updated 1.12.19, 1:40 AM
  • 2 mins read
Incab employee BS Mandal (right) with his wife Bulu outside their quarters at Old Cable Colony in Jamshedpur on Friday. Picture by Bhola Prasad

When cable-makers Incab Industries limited finally shut its plant, B.S. Mandal, then an employee with its transport department, wasn’t shocked. He knew that the company was in trouble for the better part of the 1990s. In 1999, Incab was declared sick and referred to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR ).

Mandal, who stayed on at his Old Cable Colony quarters, however could not have predicted that Incab would stay shut even two decades down the line.

An ex-serviceman who joined Incab in 1974, Mandal stayed at the cable township as he saw “the best and worst times of my life here”.

“It’s been 45 years now,” said the elderly man about his association with cable manufacturers. “The first 20-25 years were good. The last two decades were very bad,” Mandal, who ekes a living by running a school van, said.

As one of the die-hards who refused to leave, he said: “I did not know what else to do. I experienced a lot of sufferings after the company closed operations. I took up several petty jobs, and also worked as a security guard in Jusco, to fend for my family. Thank God my son Deepak has now got a job with a leading e-tailer. I somehow manage expenses with the money he sends and my earnings.”

The marriages of his daughters Jayshree and Tanushree got delayed due to his money problems, he rued. “In fact, meeting their educational expenses proved difficult. My daughters graduated from The Graduate School College for Women here in Sakchi and my son did a management course from a Calcutta-based institute,” he added.

Like Mandal, around 950 employees who are still on the rolls of Incab don’t know whether to vote this time.

Mandal has seen a lot of elections. “Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha, bypolls. Our area falls under Jamshedpur Lok Sabha seat and Jamshedpur East Assembly seat. Both ways, it’s one of the most prominent seats of the state. Before every election, they (politicians) make promises but our lot doesn’t change,” he said.

Like Mandal, most Incab voters don’t care about bad roads, lack of water or electricity or pollution. They just want the revival of the company so that the employees get back their jobs.

The Incab area falls under Jamshedpur East, where chief minister Raghubar Das is pitted against his own former cabinet colleague and BJP rebel Saryu Roy. Apart from land rights for dwellers of 86 urban slums in the constituency, reviving Incab is also at the forefront of issues in this high-profile constituency.

But too many years have gone by. “What’s the use of voting when no one looks at our sufferings?” said an employee. “I will go for Nota,” said another. The wife of an employee recalled how before the 2014 Assembly polls, Raghubar Das, then an MLA from Jamshedpur East, had promised to start steps to re-open the company. “He became CM, five years went by, nothing happened.”

‘Nothing happened’ is a refrain that echoes in this shabby township.

Incab workers’ union functionary U.K. Sharma called the last 19 years a test of patience. “Employees haven’t been paid for 19 years, when the sick industry was referred to the BIFR, and they have fanned out, doing whatever they could to keep home fires burning,” he said.

What now? Mandal smiles. “We had a lot of expectations from Raghubar Das when he became the CM after winning the 2014 Assembly polls. Now, our enthusiasm has dimmed.”

Jamshedpur East votes on December 7