Hetauda-based factories reopen after six months

- PRATAP BISTA, Hetauda

Feb 17, 2016-

With the Madhes-based political parties halting their protests at the borders and India lifting the blockade, several factories which remained shut for the past six months have resumed operations.

However, production plants were yet to operate in full capacity due to a short supply of fuel, President of Makwanpur Industries Association Nawaraj Acharya said. “They are unable to run their regular three shifts a day,” he added.

Following the Tarai unrest, a number of factories were compelled to shut since August end. The few remaining had to stop production after the southern neighbour’s trade embargo. 

Lekhanath Pokharel, vice-president of the association, also confirmed the reopening of production plants. “Only those factories whose raw materials have been stuck at the Nepal-India border are yet to restart business,” he said. Chief District Officer of Makwanpur district Man Bahadur BK said they handed over a total of 90,000 litres of diesel to the factories on Monday. “More than 90 percent of the closed factories have reopened their businesses since the last five days.” 

BK Bose, the second vice president of the association,expressed hope that factories would be able to run at maximum capacity once fuel supply eased. Bose, plant head of Super Lamicoats, printing and packaging products’ industry, also complained of not being able to operate their factory for the entire three shifts. About two dozen industries including Asian Paints and Berger Paints have not been able to operate in full swing due to a lack of adequate raw materials and fuel.

Following the Tarai protest, factories operating at the Hetauda Industrial Estate and its vincinity have been reported to undergo a total loss of Rs10 billion. Swagat Pyakurel, general secretary of the association, said factories inside the industrial estate alone faced a cumulative loss of Rs8 billion. “It will take a long time to replenish the loss.”

There are 82 factories operating in the industrial zone. Facing huge financial losses, factories have failed to provide timely payments to their workers. Hetauda Cement is one of them. The factory was shut after it could not import coal from India following the blockade. The factory, however, managed to resume its business after India lifted the blockade last week. It began manufacturing cement from Thursday. Over the last five and a half months, the factory has undergone a net loss of Rs100 million, factory officials said.

The blockade has not only affected domestic factories but also multinational companies. Unilever Nepal said its profit this year had dropped by 30 percent (Rs3.5 billion). Unilever restarted its operation since Saturday. 

Although the government used to collect revenue of more than Rs7 billion annually from factories running in Hetauda Industrial Estate, it managed to collect only Rs2 billion in the last six months. 

Published: 17-02-2016 08:36

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