A fire, suspected to be an act of sabotage, destroyed papers related to accounts and provident funds at the general office of Incab Industries here early on Monday, four days before an important hearing on its revival is scheduled at Calcutta High Court on Friday, March 29.
The company, which used to manufacture cables, has been shut for 19 years.
Security guards spied dense smoke billowing out of the Incab general office in Golmuri around 5.30am and immediately informed a former officer of Incab Prem Sagar Singh, who in turn called up the fire brigade. Two government fire tenders from Golmuri fire station were deployed, which took over an hour to control the blaze.
Files and documents at two offices on the ground floor of the company’s general office, which is a double-storey building, caught fire. No one was injured on the deserted site.
A group of employees led by Ram Binod Singh, general secretary of The Indian Cable Workers’ Union later went to Golmuri thana and lodged a verbal complaint on the fire.
“It seems to be sabotage,” the workers’ union leader told this paper. “Several important documents were completely gutted. We lodged a verbal complaint with Golmuri thana.”
Ruling out short-circuit, he said, “There is no electricity connection at the Incab general office. The company is shut for 19 years now.”
The functionary added an important hearing was slated at Calcutta High Court on Friday on the company’s revival. “The court will hear the pleas of Tata Steel, the only bidder left in the fray to take over the company, as well as that of The Indian Cable Workers Union, regarding the unit’s debts.”
Golmuri OC Ran Vijay Singh refused to speak much. “So far, we have not received any written complaint. Hence, we can’t say anything about the quantum of damage. We are yet to start a probe.”
A few former employees of Incab, who are waiting for its revival, said they did not know what to make of the fire.
Once a major producer of cables, Incab’s Jamshedpur plant had a strength of around 2,000 employees in its heyday. In the mid-1990s, Malaysian promoter Leader Universal Holdings Berhad took over the firm. But the company started suffering losses and slid deeper in the red.
Incab was referred to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR), under the finance ministry, in 1999, a year before Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar, but the unit did not revive and shut shop in a few months.
Tata Steel proposed a financial package of Rs 87 crore for revival and submitted its bid to SBI, the operating agency of the sick unit, in 2007.
BIFR and the appellate authority for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction, which had given verdicts in favour of Tata Steel in the past, were dissolved on December 1, 2016, paving the way for National Company Law Tribunal, a quasi-judicial body that helps with the revival of sick industries, to take over the issue of its revival.