Govt move comes months after Bengal Chemicals reported 1st profit in 60 years.
Kolkata: It is ironical that the Union Cabinet cleared the strategic sale of Bengal Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd (BCPL) at a time when India’s first pharma company was on the verge of a turnaround. Only two months ago, BCPL reported a net profit for the first time in six decades.
“BCPL has registered a net profit of Rs 1.16 crore for the first half of 2016-17 and this is like creating history as we have done this after 63 years. We are improving on all fronts and expecting Rs 100 crore turnover this fiscal,” BCPL managing director P.M. Chandraiah said.
When the Asian Age sought his reaction over the Cabinet decision, Mr Chandraiah said he is still awaiting the written communication from the Union ministry of chemical and fertilisers and department of pharmaceuticals. He said he is hopeful that the ministry will give them the nod to sell off five acres of scattered land owned by the company at Panihati in North 24 Parnagas. “This land has been lying unused for 50 years. Sale of this land will fetch approximately Rs 60 crores. We can use Rs 20 crores for paying off the bank loans and another Rs 30 crores to clear other liabilities. The rest can be utilised for working capital fund,” he added.
Mr Chanraiah further said that the company is expecting a profit of Rs 4-5 crores in this financial year. “We have already introduced e-payment system for our 330 employees from the month of May. Dues of retired employees are now being cleared on the very day of their retirement,” he said.
In the last three months, the company has given part of its property on rent to four leading companies, including West Bengal Seed Corporation and a private bank, which will fetch a rent of Rs 3 crores per year.
Two illustrious men were born in Bengal in the year 1861. One of them Rabindranath Tagore went onto win Nobel prize for literature while the other Prafulla Chandra Ray earned the title of “Father of Chemistry in India”.
Ray, who set up the first chemical factory in India towards the end of 19th century in Kolkata, was a visionary. He was a brilliant student who went to the University of Edinburgh on a scholarship and obtained B.Sc. and D.Sc. degrees.
After returning to Kolkata in 1888, Ray worked with his famous friend Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose in his laboratory. In 1889, Ray was appointed an assistant professor of chemistry at Presidency College. However, not remaining content with just pursuing academic excellence, he set up Bengal Chemical & Pharmaceutical Works Ltd., present Bengal Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
The pioneering company manufactured quality chemicals, drugs, pharmaceuticals and other home products, using indigenous technology, skill and raw materials. It has homecare and cosmetics brands like Cantharidine, Pheneol, White Tiger and naphthalene balls, which used to be popular household names in respective segments.
After remaining on top for decades, the decline of Bengal Chemicals started in 1960s. Following its mounting losses, the Union government took control of the company in 1981 and it was declared sick in 1992.