Minister Kimmane defends pulling up IAS officer

Says he did not misbehave with MPM chief Gupta
Minister Kimmane Ratnakar has defended his action of pulling up IAS officer Harsh Gupta, Managing Director of Mysore Paper Mills Limited (MPM), but said at no point he misbehaved with the officer.

Speaking with mediapersons here on Friday, the minister, who is in-charge of Shivamogga district where the MPM is located, said that he was unaware of the decisions including layoff of 1,200 employees at MPM.

“When I met the officer in the corridors of Vidhana Soudha, I asked him the reason for not informing me about the developments. At no point did I use unparliamentary language against him. I am only concerned about the welfare of the farmers and the workers,” the minister said.

Gupta had recently taken the incident of being pulled up by the minister to the IAS Officers’ Association. In turn, the Association, in writing, had lodged a complaint with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah against Ratnakar for reportedly ill-treating the officer.

Undeterred by the officers’ complaint against him, the minister said that he had sent the right message to the IAS community. “People are happy that I sent across a strong message by pulling up the officer,” he added.

Ratnakar said that he had to face embarrassing moments in the recently held Legislature session when questions were raised about protests by sugarcane farmers in front of MPM. The company, which is also into sugar production, is now finding it tough to keep its activities going on as it is not able to clear even power dues to the tune of Rs eight crore, to KPTCL.
With both, paper manufacturing and sugarcane crushing activities of the company almost coming to a halt, the farmers were agitated.

The minister said he would be calling a meeting of the officials of the Industries department on December 15, to plan measures to revive MPM.

Ratanakar had met the chief minister and deputy chairman of the State Planning Board C M Ibrahim, who belongs to Bhadravati where the MPM is located. Ibrahim told reporters that MPM will be revived at a cost of Rs 350 crore, and at no point will it be privatised.

The revival plan would include printing of judicial papers, revenue stamps, stamp papers, etc, which have a high demand in the market. The revival might happen with government fund or MPM might be leased out to a private party.

The company which runs a sugar factory and a paper mill has accumulated losses to the tune of Rs 450 crore. And, not less than Rs 1,000 cr would be required to revive the factory, official sources said.

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