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Islamabad

May 14, 2018

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Closure of factory creates human crisis

Islamabad: While the management of the Agritech Fertilizer Limited (formerly Pak-American Fertilizers) one of the four major industrial units producing fertilizer, cement, dye and penicillin, is running from pillar to post to win a lease of life on this already ‘dead’ factory, a human crisis has emerged that is yet not being paid attention to.

The factory, which was commissioned back in 1958 and was the first Nitrogenous fertilizer plant built in Pakistan, was finally closed down nine months ago, rendering 1,300 employees jobless, directly impacting as many families, women and children.

There are many more families, which have been impacted indirectly as they have lost trade and business opportunities because of the closure of the factory. Mr Zahid Akram Niazi, the Head of supply chain of the Agritech Fetilizer Ltd. said that this is not a matter of the sustenance of mere 1,300 employees and their families.

“The closure of plant, that is inevitable, if gas is not restored in couple of weeks, shall result in a chain of events that is bound to create a socio-economic catastrophe for thousands of individuals,” he pointed out.

“Not only 1,300 employees, the only bread winners of their huge families, shall stand unemployed, at least 3,500 students, studying in the state-of-the-art 4 schools, 1 college and 2 madrassas shall be left deprived of cost effective and quality education,” he added.

Similarly, he said, the transport facility to pick and drop hundreds of the students of the poor area, studying in various schools and colleges in Mianwali will cease to operate. Rehan Munir, the General Manager (Manufacturing) of the factor said that the legal procedure for the closure of the factory has already been initiated and a letter to the Pakistan Stock Exchange has already been sent in this regard.

“It will have a massive impact on the poor people of the area in every sphere of life. The local population will be deprived of the best health facilities being provided to them in the state-of-the-art AGL hospital which offers free dialysis treatment as well as the Trauma Centre will be closed, which have been a blessing for them in this backward area,” Rehan Munir said.

At the same time, he added, the ‘Iskanderabad Welfare Trust’, which offers financial assistance to a sizeable number of widows and orphans will also be closed and with that the only hope for hundreds of poor widows and the orphans will come to an end.

The closure of the factory will lead to stoppage of water supplies to Iskanderabad Colony, Gullen Khel, Saurra, Khatakabad and Khairabad, which is a blessing for them as the underground water is brackish and not drinkable.

Rehan Munir said that the AGL has laid the infrastructure and has been supplying water to all surrounding areas, which will eventually stop once the factory is closed down. “The AGL payroll contributes Rs70 million/month to the local economy. One can easily assess the magnitude of the economic depression likely to befall the community if AGL is permanently closed just like the Pencillin and the Pak Dyes factories vanished without trace in the past.

The employees and the residents of the area had appealed to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take notice of such a discriminatory policy of the Federal Government to equalize the feed gas tariffs for all urea manufacturers in the same country which are highly different for different plants in Pakistan.

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