DYFI Hits the Street Demanding to Save State-owned Bengal Chemicals Factory
Kolkata: The Democratic Youth Federation of India’s (DYFI) Calcutta District Committee hit the streets on Friday, demanding to save the state-owned ‘Mini Ratna’ Bengal Chemicals factory. The factory, formally known as the Bengal Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (BCPL), is a PSU under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers.
The Left-affiliated DYFI and the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) held the protest rally at the gate of the factory in Maniktala on Friday, demanding the revival of this century-old traditional factory and seeking livelihood for the unemployed. Apart from Bengal Chemicals, the DYFI will also protest in front of the offices of all state-owned companies in Kolkata for the next month.
Referring to the role of noted chemist and scientist Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy behind the establishment of BCPL, DYFI State Secretary Meenakshi Mukherjee said this factory was built with the specific aim of addressing the country's medicine needs and people's livelihoods. But now the government is plotting to sell and destroy this factory. She also warned that DYFI would put up strong resistance against this move.
Established in Kolkata, West Bengal, in 1901 by Prafulla Chandra Ray, Bengal Chemicals was India's first government-owned pharmaceutical manufacturer. It was nationalised in 1980.
SFI and DYFI called the protest meeting on the martyrdom day of freedom fighter Khudiram Bose.
In the protest meeting, Mukherjee also said that while people are seeking work, the central government is taking jobs away by closing state-owned organisations. On the other hand, the Trinamool Congress-led state government also showed no initiative to protect the factory. “The state government has no concern about what will happen to the economy of West Bengal or what will happen to the unemployed youths of the state,” she said.
"The aim of the Modi government at the Centre is to work for the interests of capitalists and big people. For that purpose, the state-owned industrial factories in the country are being handed over to private owners. Centuries-old factories like Bengal Chemicals are also being plotted against to push them to ruin," Mukherjee claimed.
The DYFI leader alleged that "the state government, in collusion with the Modi government, is also involved in the attempt to destroy this factory. Trinamool keeps its mouth shut against the Modi government's anti-people, anti-national policies. So, no effort is made to save this factory, even though it is profitable now.” She proclaimed, “People should unite and stop the attempt to destroy this factory."
DYFI leader Kalatan Dasgupta, editor of Juboshakti, called on people from different sections of the society to unite in the fight to protect various state-owned industrial factories, including BCPL. He said that if there is no strong protest against “this plot to sell everything”, the next generation and the country will be severely damaged. Accusing the government of misguiding people in the name of 'Amrita Bharat', he said, “The unemployed cannot find permanent jobs in the country, and on the other hand, selling the water, land, and mines of the country is ‘Amrit Kal’?”
He further said, "BJP-RSS combine is trying to divide people through caste, religion, and caste divisions to distort the united struggle of the people against this conspiracy of the central and state governments."
Poulavi Majumder, secretary of the Kolkata district unit of DYFI, highlighted the current situation of the country and the state in her speech. She said it was decided to organise protests not only for Bengal Chemicals but also for different state-owned companies across Kolkata for a month at the factory gates.
Presiding over the meeting, Bikash Jha said that various medicines have been manufactured by the factory with the aim of creating employment. However, multinational foreign private companies are plotting to destroy it to profit and benefit, he said, adding that DYFI workers will continue to fight against this “conspiracy”.
The speakers at the protest meeting demanded the restart of the factory units that have been closed and, if necessary, the factory's infrastructure should be improved by using new technology. In addition, the DYFI leaders raised the demand of giving due wages to the workers by appointing permanent workers in the units of various departments.
The BCPL manufactures a wide range of consumer, medicinal, and industrial goods. The factory also produces medications such as antibiotic injectables, pills, and capsules, as well as industrial chemicals.
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.