hectic lobbying by ministries, which want to keep them alive in what may be an effort to protect their turf. The petroleum ministry has opposed closing down of HPCL Biofuels, while the textiles ministry has raised the issue of closure of ailing British India Corporation and Elgin Mills to the level of PMO. At least three pharma PSUs were referred to a panel of ministers, which has so far opted to not to close down Hindustan Antibiotics. Following the heavy industry ministry proposing successfully to shut down some HMT arms and the shipping ministry getting the cabinet go-ahead for the closure of Central Inland Water Transport Corporation, the government had sought to suggest that it was serious about shutting down chronically loss-making PSUs, which were a drain on the exchequer. However, the plan is facing resistance from some of the administrative ministries.
After NITI Aayog submitted its recommendations, principal secretary to PM Nripendra Misra, who has been involved with the exercise, indicated that the government's keenness to move ahead on a path may not be politically popular. What is, however, strengthening the government's case is that these companies have not seen significant addition to manpower in recent years and existing employees are being given a liberal severance package.
"The winding up of (some of) these units, out of 74 loss-making PSUs identified by the NITI Aayog for closure or sell off, has received a go-ahead from PMO," said an official, adding that the list was finalised after several round of consultation held by Misra with respective ministries.
The NITI Aayog, tasked with preparing a roadmap for ailing PSUs, had submitted two separate lists of ailing and loss-making PSUs — one comprising those that can be closed down and the other of those where government can divest its stake.
Out of 74, the Aayog had suggested status quo in case of two PSUs, strategic disinvestment of 10, plan for revival with option for strategic disinvestment for 22, transfer of ownership of six, merger of three, long term lease of five and closure of 26.