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BEL's investment plans spark hopes of revival at TN Industrial Explosives

T E Raja Simhan | Updated on September 30, 2019 Published on September 30, 2019

File photo of the TEL factory in Katpadi , about 140 km from Chennai

TEL to be given to Bharat Electronics on long-term lease

Tamil Nadu Industrial Explosives Ltd (TEL), which was the only licensed State-owned explosive manufacturing unit in the country before mounting losses forced it to shut shop in September 2017, appears to have got a lifeline.

Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) has evinced interest in reviving this State-owned ‘sick’ unit following its foray into the supply of explosives and detonators for the Defence, a State government official said.

On September 26, the Tamil Nadu government inked a memorandum of understanding with BEL, which will initially invest ₹50 crore in the the plant. “It is a win-win for both TEL and BEL. We will give TEL to BEL on a long-term lease. There is no plan of BEL taking over TEL,” he added.

The TEL unit at Katpadi is located on 700 acres in the Panamadangi Reserve Forest on the Vellore-Chittoor border, about 140 km from Chennai.

While 226 of the 300-odd employees who were rendered jobless were offered a Voluntary Retirement Scheme, the rest of the employees were redeployed in other State-owned companies such as Tamil Nadu Newsprint, Tamil Nadu Cements and SIDCO, said R. Ravi, a former employee of TEL and General Secretary of the Labour Progressive Front, which has been demanding that the State government settle the dues of TEL employees. The government has to give nearly Rs 4 lakh to each employee, he said.

In 2013-14, TEL recorded an all-time high revenue of Rs 45 crore. However, the company started making a loss after a stoppage in production of key products following poor sales, said Ravi.

“We will consider bringing back the employees deployed in other units back to TEL,” the State government official said.

Incorporated in February 1983 by the Tamilnadu Industrial Development Corporation, TEl manufactured NitroGlycerin based explosives in technical collaboration with Bofors Nobel Chematur, Sweden, and sub-collaboration with Dyno Industries, Norway. It manufactured 15,000 tonnes of NitroGlycerine (NG) explosives of small and large diameter in both gelatinous and powder forms, and 5 million metres detonating fuses with a German company, annually.

Its major customers included Coal India, Singareni Collieries and Neyveli Lignite.

Even as efforts are on to revive TEL, its former employees have approached the Madras High Court to settle their dues, said Ravi.

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Published on September 30, 2019
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