Saturday, February 04, 2006

MAVOOR: Oru Deshathinte Kadha - Vol. II

The Bad Times:

When Mavoor GRASIM planned to start its operations, the government had agreed to provide it with all the necessary raw-materials. This was done considering all the employments and revenue the company will help generate. But the employment generation came to a stand-still towards the end of 60's. While the demand for raw-materials was ever growing up, so much so that large tracks of virgin forests in Nilambur and elsewhere were laid to waste. The government could no longer satisfy the demand, forcing the company to export most of the stuff from neighbouring states. The company tried to counter the increased costs by passing over them to the employees. People were now getting no hikes nor bonuses for years on end. Those who joined with much better salaries compared to elsewhere, found that their pays just stagnated. The labour unrest arising out of this and the mounting costs made the company to close down the operations for the first time in 1985.

And so it remained closed for a long time. These were the hardest of times!. Some wise men managed to move to Gulf and escaped forever. But for some there was no future outside Grasim. The next three years saw numerous suicides in Mavoor. And finally when the Nayanar Ministry came in, the government went down on its knees to appease the Birlas, promising more and more concessions, and finally managed to re-open the company in 1988.

But by then things had changed irrevocably. Protests were growing from all around on the pollution caused. But the company went ahead, blatantly refusing to accept any pollution control norms. I remember my Dad saying this about the Effluent(waste) water treatment. Whatever, pollution control system that was in place was used only during the summer months, when there was little water in the river, and so it wasn't easy to hide the pollutants. During the monsoons, when Chaliyar roars down, nothing was done and the effluents were just flushed down, hoping that nobody will notice them by the time they reached the sea.

Also, pulp production here was becoming more and more costlier. Lack of Bamboo meant the company had to use many other varieties of wood (like eucalyptus), which inturn affected the quality of the pulp produced. By then, Grasim had another similar factory in Harihar near Bangalore, where they were able to get raw-materials much cheaper. Also, falling prices globally meant that it was more easy and economical for Grasim to export pulp rather than produce here. But still the Mavoor unit was not in red, it was making handsome profits, mainly because of CS2 (Carbon -disulphide) and Ammonia plants (which were also the killer ones as far as pollution was concerned) and because the employees were all so underpaid. But the final blow to Mavoor Grasim, came with the death of Aditya Vikram Birla in 1995.

His son, Kumar Mangalam take over. Like any other Harvard/Stanford MBA, the first thing he did was to put some of the latest management principles into practice. Nothing more than CK Prahlad's memo to "concentrate on one's core competencies" . Many businesses were sold off and dismantled. And the first one on the chopping block was the "problem-ridden" and "obsolete" Mavoor unit. Many people still believe that if AV Birla was there, the factory would still be up and running in Mavoor.

The late 1990's saw large scale agitations from the environmentalist groups, and so the demand for more investment in pollution control systems. And GRASIM wasn't willing to invest even a penny more. The end when it came, came very swiftly. In 1999, the Birlas informed BSE that they were winding up operations in Mavoor. The reasons given: Inability of the government in providing the promised quantity and quality of raw-materials and the availability of quality pulp at more cheaper rates in the international market. Thus came the end of an era, with more than 3000 employees losing their job and left to fend for themselves.

Many people still believe that it was a victory of the environmental groups, that it was due to their agitations that Mavoor Grasim finally closed down. No way... If Grasim could make substantial profits it would still be running there, grossly violating all pollution norms, and the industry starved governments of Kerala would have just kept their eyes shut. It was just a case of a corporate focusing into areas which gave it much higher profits, ruthlessly leaving behind stuff that it felt were no longer viable, no longer its "core -competence"...

(go to ... PART I, PART III )

20 comments:

ചില നേരത്ത്.. said...

Dear Friend,
Thanks for this Obituary note..
Expecting more bout the reasons for the Agitations Which Forced to shut down the factory.
Regards,
Ibru-

Shankar said...

Dear Anish,
I grew up in Mavoor and just looking at all the pictures brought back fond memories of the good old days. Are there more pictures that you can share with me please?

aniSH... said...

Hello Shankar,
Goto http://flickr.com/
and search for Mavoor. These pictures are mainly that of my friends and that of the company/colony.
Next time I'll try to click more pics of Mavoor alone.

Thanks,

Shankar said...

Hi Anish, I did go to flick and look at all the pics. They did bring a lot of nostalgia for me. When did you live in Mavoor? Do you know me? I looked at your pictures but maybe you were a junior to me and that's why I couldn't recall. Sorry about that. I studied in the school from 1975 to 1986.

Thanks for the pictures again.

aniSH... said...

Hello Shankar,
We are exactly one generation apart!
I studied in GRHS during 1986-1997. So when you were in 10th, I was in LKG :). No wonder you didn't recognize me!!

Please mail me at anish.reghunath@gmail.com

Thanks,

aniSH... said...

Talking to Shankar, I achieved more than anything that was intended with this post. I now understand, how much less I knew about Mavoor and how much more it means to so many people.

Thanks a lot!

Sushil said...

Dear Anish,

This is Sushil. I lived this gr8 place during 80s... i really loved to see all the pictures. you might be knowing my bother Sethu. We stayed in E-1 & D qtrs. Please let me know more about you and your family. you can mail me at sushilkumar.c@daburpharma.com or c_sushilkumar@rediffmail.com.

Take care,
Sushil

Suresh said...

Dear Anish,

Great Posting!!!! I studied in GRHS , SSLC in 1985. I have not visited Mavoor Since early 90's. ( When my parents moved out of Mavoor). This posting really helped me to go back in time and remember my school days. I also went through your photo collection, great!!.

On the other hand, it is Sad that all these assets are not used used/ wasted, which could have been used for Good purpose. May be IT/ITES industry is a good choice under chaging scenario and the way our economy is growing.

I like to See Mavoor in better and Good shape in coming days, that will definitely be a motivation to visit this place again!!!!

Regards

Suresh

aniSH... said...

Dear Suresh,
Thanks!
I also hope that some new industry comes up in Mavoor. Actually, the next five years is the best chance that Mavoor will ever have as our current Industries Minister is none other than the old worker/Trade Union leader of Mavoor Grasim -Elamaram Kareem. Hope he does something good for this place.

Regards,

p.b.shaju said...

i studied in grhs 1977 to 1988.any body those who remember me please contact this mail id(pbshaju@yahoo.co.in)

Faisal said...

I am Faisal from Mavoor.An Engg student.
U can visit me on www.faisuonline.cjb.net

I like to know more about the owner of this blog.

aniSH... said...

Faisale,
you can reach me at
anish.reghunathATgmail.com

Regards,

sunil said...

dear anish
Iam a "Mavoorukaran".The lazy attitude of workers,corrupt union leaders,greedy management,the so called environmental activists,all of them equally contributed for the closure of the factory.any how it was a timely death.The buildings in the factory compound is almost ruined.But Mavoor have a steady growth now.If anybody want latest photographs contact me.
Sunil
kozhikkodan.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

plz send me some photos of mavoor to faisal_pcm@yahoo.com.And join in
the community of mavoor in Orkut.

Anonymous said...

Hello frenz...............

i have created a website of mavoor to share the photos.As a starting i have put some photos.Hope that u will visit and convey me the opinions.....if anybody have the old photos of mavoor,sned me to faisal.pcm@gmail.com so that i can put it there.

visit www.mavoor.cjb.net

Faisal said...

Photos of Mavoor


Dear frenz..........
The website of Mavoor has been upgraded with 60 more photos.Mainly the photos of Grasim
,Quarters r included.Hope dat u will visit.
www.mavoor.co.nr

Muneerudeen said...

Anish
Remember me ! Muneerka ?/
Well I am in Mavoor / Vazhakkad today 17 Dec 2008 and again on 23rd Dec 2008.
Call me if you are around there
Mobile 98475 36475

pradeep said...

Hi friends,
I am Pradeep Kumar who passed out SSLC in 1980 batch. I stayed with my family in Block No.23. When I read all your comments about mavoor and GRHS I too had that nostalgic feeling. Now I am married and live with my daughter & wife in Mumbai. If any friends of mine remember me please call in my mobile No.09923313134 or mail me pradeepkumar150564@gmail.com

Regards,
PRADEEP KUMAR

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