In a shocking incident, over Rs 4 crore of government revenue has been allegedly embezzled by a private company during the WIMCO match factory land dealings which took place in Dhubri.
The historic WIMCO match factory in Dhubri, Assam, which was once a thriving industrial unit and produced the famous 'LOTA' and 'BULLOCK CART' brands, has been sold by ITC Limited to another company for Rs 74.25 crore. The deal has raised many eyebrows as the property is estimated to be worth more than Rs 200 crore.
The match factory was established in 1925 by a Swedish company under the name of Assam Match Company (AMCO) on a sprawling 132 bigha land. However, it was shut down completely in 1997 after the Supreme Court banned the cutting of forest trees. Since then, the factory has been lying idle and neglected.
Recently, ITC Limited sold 110 bighas of land from the match factory to M/s Kamrup Ice and Cold Storage Co., a Guwahati-based company represented by its partner Rohit Kumar Deorah.
The land sale transaction was registered at the office of Senior Sub Registrar, Dhubri on May 23, 2023, for a total sum of Rs 74,25,92,000. The 110 bigha land was divided into five parts and sold accordingly to the company.
However, it is alleged that the deal was undervalued and done clandestinely to evade government revenue. It is claimed that the actual amount paid by the buyer was much higher than what was reflected on paper. It is estimated that over Rs 4 crore of government, revenue was embezzled in this deal.
The sale of the historic match factory has sparked outrage among the locals and former workers who have been demanding its revival for years. They have accused ITC Limited of betraying the people of Dhubri and selling their heritage for a small amount of money.
They have also questioned the role of the state government and the local administration in facilitating the deal without any public consultation or transparency. Dhubri Municipal Board has secretly issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for selling the said property on 19th May 2023.
The match factory is not only a symbol of Dhubri's industrial past but also a potential source of employment and income generation for the region. They have also appealed to the buyer to set up another industry on the land instead of using it for commercial or residential purposes.
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