Stop auction of two Assam paper mills: Cong. to PM Modi

Apex employees’ body writes to Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma with a similar plea

The Assam unit of Congress has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop the auction of two closed mills of the Hindustan Paper Corporation (HPC) in the State.

The Joint Action Committee of Recognised Unions (JACRU), the apex body of employees of the Nagaon Paper Mill at Jagiroad near Guwahati and Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram near Silchar, has made a similar plea to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The Cachar and Nagaon mills have been closed since October 2015 and March 2017. The employees of both the mills have not received their salaries and pension benefits since 2017.

Liquidator Kuldeep Varma had on June 1 issued an e-auction notice for the sale of the two HPC mills as “going concern” at a “reserve price of ₹1,139-crore”. The auction is scheduled on June 30 on the site of the Metal Scrap Trade Corporation.

In a letter to the Prime Minister on June 5, Assam Congress president Ripun Bora said auctioning the mills off would undermine the government’s bid to promote industry besides being an injustice to the employees and the local economy that grew around the facilities over the years.

‘Repeated commitment’

He also reiterated the party’s demand for a special economic package for mills and reminded the Prime Minister of the commitment to their revival by former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his successor Nirmala Sitharaman.

“…it is not necessary to remind you about your repeated commitment in a number of election campaign meetings in Assam… even in 2021 to revive the said two paper mills by granting a special economic package,” Mr. Bora said, recalling similar assurances by Dr. Sarma and his predecessor Sarbananda Sonowal.

The JACRU too reminded the Chief Minister of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s April 4 declaration to make India ‘atmanirbhar’ in paper production by utilising the available bamboo and forest resources in Assam.

“This is a golden opportunity for the government to bring industrial revolution in Assam for ensuring economic growth… and fulfilling commitments, thereby saving the lives of the struggling workers,” JACRU president Manobendra Chakraborty and general secretary Ananda Bordoloi said.

They also said 87 employees had died so far because of their hunger and inability to afford treatment for various illnesses. The last employee to die battling ill-health was Siraj Uddin Mazumder on May 29.

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