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Kerala: CITU Opposes Closure of HIL Unit, Claims Adverse Impact on Workers, Farm Sector

The workers and families of HIL employees have said they would protest on March 10 against the plant's closure.
Image Source: NewsClick

The HIL (India) Limited (formerly Hindustan Insecticides Limited) plant in Udyogamandal in Ernakulam district, the first central public sector undertaking (PSU) in Kerala, is being shut down. The pesticides plant in Raigad, Maharashtra, will alone survive, as another manufacturing unit in Bhatinda, Punjab, is also being closed. The decision was taken as per the recommendations of the Department of Investment and Public asset management (DIPAM) under the Union ministry of finance.

None of the stakeholders, including the state government and employees, were consulted before the decision was made. The closure of the Kerala plant will affect the lives of 60 permanent workers. The plant once manufactured DDT and Endosulfan.

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), along with other trade unions, has demanded revival of the plant and utilisation of infrastructure in the 37-acre campus, but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union government has gone ahead with the closure plan.

The workers and families of HIL employees have said they would protest on March 10 against the plant's closure.

With the closure of the two PSU plants, the manufacturing of agro-pesticides and its pricing will be controlled by private players and increase the country's dependence on imports.


The HIL was dedicated to the nation in 1954 by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. The unit manufactured several pesticides, including DDT, Endosulfan, Dicofol and Mancozeb. After the ban on DDT and Endosulfan, the plant continued to manufacture agro-pesticides, including mancozeb, herbicides glyphosate and pendimethalin.

Even as the threat of closure loomed large during 2020, trade unions proposed a revival package to ensure the survival of Kerala's first PSU.

The HIL said it had an issue with working capital since the plant was running losses due to the ban on several pesticides. With no support from the Union government, production was stopped a year and a half ago, Aji MG, state committee member of CITU, told NewsClick.

India depends on import of pesticides and private sector products. It imported around 13,000 tonnes of pesticides in 2021. The Union government claimed it would reduce imports due to the Make in India campaign, but production from PSUs has been negligible.

The cost of pesticides has increased in recent years, thanks to market domination by private players. This impacts the cost of production of several agricultural products, adversely affecting the farmer, MG said.


The CITU has accused the Union government and the management of not considering its repeated pleas and revival proposals.

The trade unions have proposed association with FACT (Fertiliser and Chemicals Travancore Ltd) in Udyogmandala so that the existing infrastructure can be used for manufacturing other agro products. But instead of reviving a PSU essential for the agricultural sector, the government is insisting on shutting it down, MG added.

As per reports, HIL employees above 55 years old have been allowed to apply for voluntary retirement, while the others are being offered transfers to HIL's manufacturing and seeds plants. 

The CITU has demanded the state government take over the plant, but the Union government does not seem to be  considering such a possibility.

The 37-acre campus includes 5 acres leased by the state government. "We wanted the state government to take over HIL, as they did in the Hindustan Newsprint Limited," MG said.

Considering the closure of two manufacturing units in two non-BJP ruled states, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Kerala state committee has alleged political vendetta behind the closure move.

The Union government has decided to shut down only the units in Kerala and Punjab. The Maharashtra unit will continue functioning. It is clear that this decision is at the behest of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), for whom things are not going as planned in Kerala, MV Govindan, state secretary of CPI(M), said.

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