Shimla, Apr 18: The Himachal Pradesh Kisan Sabha (HKS) today opposed the state government's efforts of selling the carton producing Agro Industrial Packaging India Limited (AIPIL) in Gumma area of this district, saying it was running away from its primary tasks.
The main objective of the factory was to substitute the conventional wooden boxes for which a large number of green trees had to be felled, besides stabilising its prices, Kisan Sabha's state president Tikender Singh Panwar and district president Sanjay Chuhan said at a joint news conference here.
They said the unit with an installed capacity of 1.80 crore cartons for apple and other horticulture produce was under utilised since its setting up with a manufacturing capacity of 3.89 per cent to 24.50 per cent only.
The unit, which was set up with Central government assistance in 1989 in Pragati Nagar of this district, was to stabilise the prices of the cartons also being manufactured by private units, besides preventing green felling, Mr Panwar and Mr Chauhan said.
Criticising the successive state governments for trying to sell off the unit as it was accruing huge losses year after year, the leaders said the under utilisation of the unit was leading to a situation whereby its cost of manufacturing was ''relatively high'' as compared to the other private players.
Mr Panwar and Mr Chauhan said even the number of the employees have come down to 78 from a high of 188 since its inception in 1987.
Attributing the huge losses to mismanagement by various government appointees over the years, they said a number of cases in various courts of the state over misuse of funds were a proof that it had not been managed with an intention to keep it running.
The leaders warned that the unit's sale would increase the prices of the carton boxes and affect the horticulturists of Shimla, Solan, Kullu, Mandi, Kangra, Kinnuar and Chamba districts of the state.
The Kisan Sabha leaders threatened to launch a mass awareness campaign over the issue followed by a state-wide agitation to prevent the sale of the AIPIL's unit.