Sunday December 05, 2021

Punjab govt in action for accountability: Jahangir Tareen’s sugar mill ordered to remove large cane crushing machinery

July 28, 2020

ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE: The director general of Industries, Prices, Weights & Measures of Punjab has directed JDW-1 Sugar Mill Rahimyar Khan, owned by Jahangir Tareen, to remove within 30 days additional machinery installed that enhanced its crushing capacity from 4,000 tons to 7000 tons. However, the JDW has contested the order saying that its installations were completely legal and as per rules and regulations.

The action has been directed in a 9-page order, a copy of which is available with The News, written by the director general, under Section 4 of the Punjab Industries (Control on Establishment and Enlargement) Ordinance, 1963. The mill asked to submit compliance report so that necessary inspection may be carried out well before the next crushing season.

The order said the mill neither produced any document of seeking permission for enhancement in capacity under the relevant law nor provided any information/documentary proof to show that the increase was made in the year when there was no ban on enlargement.

It said that the order dated Dec 19, 2000 to remove the enlargement machinery was challenged in the Lahore High Court (LHC), which was dismissed. In the intra-court appeal filed by the mill was filed vide order dated Dec 4, 2003 on the statement of the assistant advocate general of Punjab. The issuance of enhancement from 4000 tons to 7000 tons requires legal scrutiny and being forwarded to the senior law officer of the Industries, Commerce, Investment & Skills Development Department (ICI&SD) for examination and advice. However, enlargement to more than 7000 TCD is unjustified and without any permission of the government, the order said.

It said that the mill was established against the no-objection certificate (NOC) issued by Industries and Mineral Department of Punjab vide notification dated Dec 2, 1989. The proposed project was completed and commissioned for operational activities in 1992.

A survey was conducted in 1994-95 to evaluate the actual crushing capacity of the sugar mill and on the basis of proforma filed by it, the sugar crushing capacity was born out of 4000 tons from it. Later on, the deputy director of the Industries Bahawalpur Division reported on Sep 12, 2000 that the mill installed additional machinery during the year 1999 in consequent of which its cane crushing capacity has been increased from 4000 tons to 7000 tons. The average per day crushing capacity was worked out on the basis of total crushing production of a season.

The order said that in pursuance of this report a show cause notice dated Oct 5, 2000 was served upon the mill by the then director of Industries Punjab with the observation “you have installed additional machinery in the year 1999 to enhance crushing capacity from 4000 TCD to 7000 TCD per day. The enhancement is in contravention of the notification. You are asked to show cause as to why you have enlarged the crushing capacity without prior permission of the competent authority as required under the notification dated Dec 12, 1998.”

In response to show cause notice, the order said, the mill contended that the original cane crushing capacity of the plan has been designed as 4000 TCD which is extendable to 6000 TCD. However, after hearing the mill and seeing the report of the deputy director of industries, the then director, industries, directed the mill on Dec 12, 2000 to remove the additional crushing capacity within 30 days.

The mill filed an appeal before the industries secretary, which was rejected on Oct 18, 2001. It was held that the increase in crushing capacity is out of proportion and tantamount to setting up an additional mill in district Rahimyar Khan declared as a negative area for establishing sugar mills.

The JDW filed an appeal in the LHC which was dismissed on Nov 29, 2001 being devoid of merit. After that, it filed an intra-court appeal in which the operation of removal notice was suspended on Jan 8, 2002. Assistant advocate general told the LHC that the Punjab government was in the process of making a policy decision concerning the issue in hand.

The mill’s lawyer as well as the assistant advocate general agreed that for the moment the appeals may be consigned to record on the express undertaking that till the formulation of new policy and its translation into law no coercive steps would be taken.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Jahangir Khan Tareen’s sugar business has claimed that expansion in the capacity of JDW Sugar Mills Limited Unit-I was completely legal and as per rules and regulations.

The order dated July 15, 2020 of Director General Industries relating to capacity enlargement of JDW Sugar Mills Limited Unit-I was completely illegal, unlawful, mala fide, erroneous, against the law and facts and was issued without following principles of natural justice and due process, he added in a statement on Sunday.

He vowed that JDW Sugar Mills Limited was in process of challenging the order at an appropriate forum in accordance with the law, expressing the hope that the matter would be validated in the favour of the company by judicial forum.

The spokesman recalled that the order purported to relate to a show-cause notice, issued in 2014. The fact of the matter is that the show-cause notice was duly replied to in 2014 and clear evidence was submitted that all enlargement in capacity was legal, in compliance with the law and undertaken at times when there was no prohibition in enlargement in capacity.

Subsequently, complaints filed by some other persons were clubbed together with the show-cause notice and after further written submissions and hearings, the matter was conclusively decided by Director General Industries and Secretary Industries in favour of JDW Sugar Mills Limited, as reflected in order dated December 2, 2019 of Secretary Industries.

The order dated December 2, 2019 was, to the best of his knowledge, never challenged and had attained finality, he added.

Subsequently, the spokesman said, on pressure from the Sugar Inquiry Commission, the Director General Industries attempted to illegally resurrect the matter vide letter dated April 23, 2020.

This letter was duly responded to by the JDW Sugar Mills Limited vide letter dated May 29, 2020, where correct legal and factual position was reiterated and request was made for a hearing through legal counsel before any adverse order was passed, he said. The order dated July 15, 2020 has been passed surreptitiously, behind the back of JDW Sugar Mills Limited, without responding to the reply dated May 29, 2020, without holding a hearing (which was a mandatory requirement of law) and by relying on the report dated May 21, 2020 of the Sugar Inquiry Commission, which is not permissible, the spokesman added.

It is also quite unfortunate and objectionable that the order dated July 15, 2020, which was not even received by the JDW Sugar Mills Limited till July 23, 2020, had started circulating on the social media, which demonstrated the real objective and motive behind the order, he regretted.