Dunlop India (DIL) workers’ are once again seeing a ray of hope with the parliamentary standing committee on commerce scheduling a visit to the Sahaganj unit on January 5.
Chandan Mitra, chairman of the parliamentary commerce committee, confirming the visit, told FE that the committee has chosen Dunlop to find out what is hindering operations when there is an increasing demand for tyres in the Indian market. “Tyre demand is growing at a CAGR of 8% and West Bengal was a state which produced the maximum in tonnage terms from Dunlop and Tyre Corporation of India. When all other tyre companies are in an expansion mode it is queer that Dunlop has no production,” Mitra said.
A source said the Union government is looking at Dunlop in a strategic way. Dunlop is the only factory which produced aero tyres and even had a major share in the export market. At present, defence has to import tyres for its air force. If Dunlop can be revived, the air force can get tyres from this unit substituting imports.
Although Mitra didn’t want to comment on whether Dunlop will be acquired as a defence unit, he said: “The government has plans and we have to find out what can be done with the huge tract of land lying ideal.”
Dunlop has 189 acres, including the factory and estate. The Calcutta High Court has already ordered winding up Pawan Ruia’s Dunlop with all assets and books of record in the possession of the court liquidator at present. But Ruia as the owner of the Dunlop brand makes Dunlop branded tyres from Falcon Tyres in Mysore and Monotona Tyres in Maharashtra.
The shares of Falcon and Dunlop are traded on the BSE, although none of the Dunlop units in Sahaganj and Ambattur are operational.
Dunlop is a fit case for the Centre to acquire because it would support the government’s indigenization plan in the defence sector as well as PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ policy. The Centre’s land ordinance has also removed the hurdle in taking over Dunlop land, Arup Lahiri, an INTUC leader said.
The source said finance minister Arun Jaitley would review the finding of the parliamentary team and then decide how to go ahead with the issue. Besides reviving the factory on 56 acres for defence production, the estate land can be used for a smart city. A representation would also be made to the defence minister after the parliamentary team’s visit, the source said.