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BEML Privatisation Deferred, Confirms Central Government

The employees of BEML had waged a prolonged struggle against the disinvestment of the Defence PSU.

The central government has confirmed that the move to privatise the Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) has been deferred. This was stated by Subhash Bhamre, Minister of State for Defence, as the answer to the question raised by Lok Sabha member MB Rajesh on Wednesday.

"Government has deferred the strategic disinvestment of BEML in order to undertake further diligence exercise on various aspects as considered necessary," said the answer given by the Minister.

BEML was the first Defence Public Sector Unit being put up for sale to the private sector, a move which is expected to adversely affect national security and self-reliance.

BEML Disinvestment Deferred - Lok Sabha question.png

26% of the shares of BEML were slated to be sold by the central government and management control was to transferred to a private strategic buyer.

The workers of BEML, a Mini-Ratna company, had waged a prolonged struggle against the disinvestment of the strategically significant company which manufactures missile launchers, armoured vehicles, Tatra trucks and other defence equipment as well as metro and rail coaches. The company's assets are estimated to be worth well above Rs. 50,000 crore.

The company has been making profits from its inception, with profits in the last ten years alone amounting to Rs. 1141.36 crore.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan had written to the central government urging the latter not to go ahead with the privatisation move, while the workers held several protests, including a two-day protest in Delhi on 9th and 10th August 2017. The protest in Delhi was joined by BEML employees from Bangalore, Mysore, Palakkad and Kolar Gold Fields.

Protesting employees have been saying that the privatisation of the Defence PSU will entail massive corruption, just as was evident in the case of several privatisation deals where PSUs were undersold by huge amounts.

Earlier reports had said that the disinvestment move has been put on hold considering the warning by the Defence Ministry that privatising the company would be detrimental to national security. The reports have been officially confirmed now.

MB Rajesh, whose constituency Palakkad has a BEML unit, had raised the issue in the Lok Sabha several times, demanding that the centre drop the privatisation plan.

"BEML employees across the country were waging a powerful struggle against privatisation. The central government has been forced to defer the privatisation move for now as a result of such resistance," Rajesh said in a Facebook post. "This experience shows that resistance both inside and outside the Parliament against the sell-out of profit-making public sector undertakings can bear fruit."

"I greet the BEML workers who embarked on the path of struggle against privatisation. We should remember that the central government will return with this move yet again, and hence we should exercise utmost vigilance to mount resistance against it," Rajesh said.

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