Privatisation is back!

In the second strategic sale approval in over 12 years, the Union Cabinet cleared the sale of India's first pharma company, Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (BCPL), as well as Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd (HAL) after selling off their surplus land. The Cabinet also approved the closure of Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Rajasthan Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
These will be the first privatisations since the sale of Jessop and Co under the NDA government headed by PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003-04. BCPL and HAL are among the public sector units that Niti Aayog has identified for sale of government's majority stake to private companies. The government is targeting Rs.56,500 crore in disinvestment proceeds this fiscal.
Proceeds from sale of land, which would be done through open tender, will go towards meeting liabilities of the companies, including paying for VRS for employees, according to a government statement.
Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) will also be implemented in the four loss-making units.
Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Works Ltd, the previous avatar of BCPL, was set up in April 1901 by eminent scientist and entrepreneur Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray .
The government of India took over the management of the company in December 1977 and nationalised it in 1981, renaming it Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (BCPL).
From its factory at Panihati, near Kolkata, BCPL makes anti-malaria tablets Chloroquine and Paracetamol, among a host of other drugs and industrial chemicals.
HAL was the first drug manufacturing company to be set up in the public sector by Government of India with active cooperation of WHO and UNICEF.

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