Indore: In a major relief to workers of Hukumchand Mill, who have been struggling and slogging for their pending dues for last two decades, the Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court on Tuesday ruled that valuation of the mill land should be done again keeping the current guideline rates in mind.

The evaluating body has been asked to submit its report with the revised rates in the court. The auction process would start once the revised rates are decided.  Five years ago, the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) had carried out valuation of 42.49 acres of prime land of the mill that was shutdown two decades back.

It had set a base price of Rs 400 crore. The mill worker had objected to the price and threatened of not letting the auction of the land to take place. This led to tussle between the mill workers and the State Government. The Mill Employees Association had moved the court over the matter saying that the market value of the land escalated to about Rs 1600 crore.

“Price of the land has increased drastically in the last five years, so there’s need for its revaluation. The petitioner pushed the demand for a fresh revaluation of the mill land which the court has nodded,” Advocate Girish Patwardhan said.  He added that the DRT had also given its approval for revaluation about a month back of which the court took a notice.

Hukumchand Mill Employee Union President Narendra Shrivansh welcomed the court’s decision and said that the auction of land on revised price would help in settling dues of employees and bank. “The employees would not have got their justified share of money had the mill land auctioned on the current base price,” he added.

As per Shrivansh, around 6,000 employees have pending dues of Rs 229 crore while bank dues are of Rs 387 crore which would be settled with the amount generated from auction of the land. In 2013, the High Court had directed for auction of the mill land and for settlement the pending dues of the employees.

However, the proposed auction was stopped following a dispute over ownership of land. The State government had claimed that the land belongs to Industry Department while the DRT stated that the genuine owner of the land was Indore Municipal Corporation.

The DRT order mentioned that 42.49 acre of land was leased out to Hukumchand Mills through two lease deeds in 1959. It said the land in question was included within the municipal limits of Indore city by Holkar Government Gazette of 1918 and 1921 and had come to be vested in Indore Municipal Corporation Act. To challenge it, the state claimed that it was the land owner.

Rejecting the state government contention, the order says on the perusal of documents, pleading and records, it is established that the property is owned by the IMC. It says the IMC had leased out the land and not the State Government, so the property belongs to the IMC.

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