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Shrinking work makes Miniratna a dull place

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NEW DELHI:  The lack of orders for high-security passport booklets from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and lesser demand for coins from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have hit business at a government printing and minting agency. 

While the Nashik-based India Security Press (ISP) has not received any indent for printing passport booklets in Financial Year (FY) 22-23, which will drastically hit its bottomline, the order for coins is only about 1,000 million pieces as compared to 8,000 million pieces three to four years ago. 

In FY21-22, the government’s four mints had received order for about 2,200 million pieces of coins.
According to sources in the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd (SPMCIL), for the past few years, ISP’s passport booklet printing business would fetch Rs 500 crore annually, which is nearly 50 per cent of its total turnover. 

But, the MEA has not requisitioned for passports this financial year as it is “sitting on about 80 lakh” stock of the booklets. In the past, the Ministry would requisition printing about 20-25 lakh passports annually.
Part of the reason for this glut is the Centre’s move to introduce e-passports which will come with a micro-chip. “However, because of the MEA’s indecision to issue another indent, orders for neither ordinary passport booklets nor e-passports has gone to ISP,” the SPMCIL source said. 

Barring a passport’s first and last pages, the rest of the booklet is produced at ISP. The sources affirmed that from June, work at ISP will “reduce drastically”. The four mints, which were already running in losses, will service a small indent for only 1,000 million pieces of coins. The cumulative financial 
hit for SPMCIL is “in the region of Rs 700 crore”, the source said. 

To add to the woes, the SPMCIL is functioning without a Director (Technical), who is responsible for all high-grade technical work, since February 28 last year.  A Director (Technical) was selected in July 2021 but a Central Vigilance Commission-monitored graft case against him forced the authorities to reject his appointment.

“With little or no work at the Nashik press, the senior management may have to go for drastic steps such as curtailing employees’ overtime which is a healthy 33 per cent of their basic pay from June onwards,” the source said. 

SPMCIL, a unique setup
The SPMCIL has nine production units — 4 mints (in Hyderabad, Noida, Kolkata and Mumbai), 2 currency note presses, 2 security printing presses and 1 security paper mill. It is engaged in the manufacture of security paper, minting of coins, printing of currency and bank notes, etc.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)

34 Days ago