New Delhi: In the second strategic sale approval in over 12 years, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the sale of India’s first pharma company Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd as well as Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd after selling their surplus land.
The Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi also approved closure of Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (IDPL) and Rajasthan Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (RDPL).
The strategic sale approval is just the second in over 12 years. In September, the Cabinet had cleared the strategic sale of Bharat Pumps and Compressors Ltd.
These will be the first privatisation since the sale of Jessop and Co in 2003-04 under the NDA government headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
BCPL and HAL are among the public sector units that NITI Aayog has identified for sale of government’s majority stake to private companies in order to bring in greater efficiency and professionalism in their functioning.
At today’s meeting, Cabinet “approved the sale of surplus land of HAL, IDPL, RDPL and BCPL, as would be required, to meet their outstanding liabilities,” an official statement said.
Proceeds from the sale of land, which would be done through open tender, will go towards meeting liabilities of the companies, including paying for VRS for employees.
Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Works Ltd, the previous avatar of BCPL, was set up in April 1901 by eminent scientist and entrepreneur Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray.
The government of India took over the management of the company in December 1977 and nationalised it in 1981, renaming it Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (BCPL).
From its factory at Panihati, near Kolkata, BCPL makes anti-malaria tablets Chloroquine and Paracetamol, among a host of other drugs and industrial chemicals.
HAL was the first drug manufacturing company to be set up in the public sector by Government of India with active co-operation of WHO and UNICEF.