Paramilitary force had occupied erstwhile HMT factory during 2010 agitation .
Jammu and Kashmir government has asked the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to vacate the land of erstwhile Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT) factory in Zainakote Industrial Estate here. The direction has come as Government of India has wound up the defunct factory.
After being entangled in litigations with HMT employees, the Government of India recently settled the issue and officially announced its winding up.
“Following this, the JK government approached the centre government to handover land measuring 527 kanals under HMT and also asked the CRPF to vacate the premises of the factory which have been occupied by them since 2010,”sources said.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Commissioner Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Shailendra Kumar said that the GOI has initiated process for returning the land of HMT to the state government.
“The removal of CRPF has been taken up with the Home department,” he added.
Minister of Industries and Commerce, Chander Prakash Ganga, said the government will decide about the utilization of the land after officially getting it back from Centre.
The Government of India had taken the land at Zainakote for establishing Hindustan Machine Tools factory. However, post turmoil the dwindling fortunes of the factory had made it a loss making venture, subsequently the central government was forced to close down production in the unit, and now it has been wound up.
The HMT watch factory was established on sprawling 527 kanals land in 1971. After the outbreak of militancy in 1990 and migration of outside workforce, the unit became defunct. A major portion of the factory land is under the occupation of CRPF since 2010.
“After the 2010 mass agitation in Kashmir, CRPF’s 44th battalion illegally occupied our factory premises and its major chunk of land without seeking any consent from our management,” said an official.
He said except the HMT Plant, everything including flats and land of the factory is under use of CRPF.
After the killing of 22-year-old local youth, Gowhar Nazir, by personnel of this camp on November 7 last year — the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Srinagar to address a rally — the residents of the area are seeking removal of CRPF from the factory.
There are 15 buildings in the unit, with premises looking like a mini township. The factory was once bustling with activities and providing job to more than 1000 employees.
Managing Director, SICOP, R Tickoo said the Government of India has started auctioning of equipments in the factory premises. “Within a month, the factory premises will be taken back by the state government,” he informed.