Assam Northeast

“Govt To Solve The Issues Of Defunct Paper Mills’ Employees Soon”: Assam Minister

Assam Commerce and Industries Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary following a prolonged meeting with the employees of the two defunct paper mills in the state said that the state has come to a solution “amicably” to the over six years long pending issue.

Employees of the two paper mills — Nagaon paper mill shut without notice since March 13, 2017 and Cachar mill, also shut without notice since October 20, 2015 — had been protesting since closure for payment of their monetary dues along with compensations.

Patowary, without delving into details of the discussions in the meeting held at Guwahati on Monday, said, “Both Assam Government and the employee’s organisations of the paper mills have finally come to a solution amicably. The details of the resolutions will be announced by the Chief Minister since the meeting was held under his guidance.”

Patowary said that this is the second such meeting held with the various employee’s organisations.

“The outcome of the meeting is favourable. There are few points over which they wished to discuss with the CM and hence, another round of meeting will be held in his presence,” said Patowary who held the meeting along with Pijush Hazarika, state’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister and legislator of Raha under whose constituency the Nagaon Paper Mill is located.

The meeting comes three days after several of the Paper Mill workers in Nagaon, who were still residing in the living quarters, were slapped with an eviction notice from the Assam government.

After the closure of the two paper mills at least 1200 workers were rendered jobless and awaiting their dues of which, about 1000 still lived in the quarters at both Raha and Panchgram in Hailakandi district of southern Assam.

The meeting happened after 93 of the former employees including four suicides have died since the closure of the mills. Most family members of the deceased claim they died because the family didn’t have money to treat them.

Reopening the two mills was one of the poll planks of the BJP, ahead of the 2016 Assembly elections, but, in 2018, the then Union Heavy Industries and Public Sector Enterprises Minister Anant Geete had announced privatising the two mills.

The only stumbling block in liquidating the assets or privatisation of the two mills was a case regarding the disbursement of pending salaries to the employees in the National Company Law Tribunal to which, the NCLT on April 26 this year ordered the liquidator to sell Hindustan Paper Corporation that owned both the mills, as per the decision of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

All HPC assets, including the two mills, residential flats, office assets and a huge stock of inventory such as coal, unslaked lime, bamboo, and limestone, will go under the hammer as a part of the liquidation process.

The reserve price for bids has been fixed at Rs 1,139 crore and the last date of submission is June 15. The auction is slated for June 30.

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