Bengal cabinet clears Rs 52-cr GE Hotel sale

Kolkata, Nov 16 | Updated: Nov 17 2005, 06:39am hrs
The West Bengal cabinet standing committee on commerce & industry on Wednesday approved the sale of Great Eastern Hotel to Bharat Hotels owned by Rajya Sabha MP Lalit Suri for Rs 52 crore.

According to the arrangement, the government will retain 10% equity and a member on the board. Ownership structure cannot be changed for the next three years.

Bharat Hotels will invest Rs 120 crore on modernisation. According to a government official associated with the sale, Bharat Hotels Group has asked for around two years time to bring the 165-year-old hotel back on rails and start servicing customers.

Although Centre for Indian Trade Unions (Citu) and Intuc are hoping against hope that the government might negotiate with the new owner and convince Mr Suri to retain about 60-odd workers (30-40 years of age), the government official said it could not be a part of the sale deal. Before the sale the total manpower strength was 433.

Room For Change
As per the arrangement, the government will retain 10% equity and a member on the board
Ownership structure cannot be changed for the next three years
Retaining 60-odd employees between the age of 30 and 40 cannot be a part of the sale deal
Since the hotel will remain closed for two years, what will these workers do during this period.

Even if they are promised a job, the owner will not pay them salary during the period. But we will try to convince the owner to take them, said Mr Ardhendu Sen, secretary, of the public enterprise restructuring department.

Said Prasun Majumdar, assistant secretary of the Citu-backed union, The minister for industry & commerce Nirupam Sen assured us that he would take up the case of these employees with the new owner and we are banking on that.