The land of the historic match factory in Dhubri, Assam, which has remained inactive since 1997, has been sold by ITC Limited to another company for Rs 74.25 crore, triggering protests among the local community who are determined to preserve the heritage and revive the industry.
Official sources have confirmed that ITC Limited sold 110 bighas of land from the Match Factory to M/s Kamrup Ice and Cold Storage Co., represented by its partner Rohit Kumar Deorah from Guwahati. The land sale transaction was registered at the office of Senior Sub Registrar, Dhubri on 23rd May 2023, for a total sum of Rs 74,25,92,000/-.
The land was divided into five parts and sold accordingly to the Guwahati-based company having its office on the 6th Floor, Exotica Greens Commercial Complex, 191, R.G. Baruah Road, Guwahati.
The match factory was established in 1925 by a Swedish company and later acquired by ITC in 2001, used to be a significant source of employment and a source of pride for the region. It produced well-known brands such as LOTA and BULLOCK CART and was the first industry in Assam to commemorate Labour Day in 1935. At its peak, it employed over 3,000 workers.
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However, in 1997, the factory had to cease operations due to a Supreme Court ban on cutting down trees in forest areas. Since then, the factory has been left abandoned and neglected. Local residents had hoped that ITC would develop the area and establish a new industry, but even after 20 years of acquiring the land, ITC has not taken any action.
The local community became aware of the land sale when a team of four individuals arrived on Thursday to measure the size of the factory land. Led by the WIMCO Bachao Committee, the locals prevented them from conducting the measurements and staged a protest at the factory gate. It was also alleged that the land was secretly divided into five parts and sold without informing the public.
Protesters are demanding intervention from the state and central governments to revive the historic match factory or establish a new industry on the premises. They have been submitting memorandums to various ministers, leaders, and officials from different departments for a long time, urging them to save the land and the factory.
The protesters have expressed their willingness to go to great lengths, even shedding blood if necessary, to protect the land and the factory from being sold off. They emphasize that the factory not only provided livelihoods but also symbolizes their culture and history. They are resolute in their stance to prevent anyone from destroying their heritage and compromising their dignity.
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