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Mill's staff launch protest

Silchar, Jan. 21: The employees of Cachar Paper Mill, a unit of Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited (HPCL), at Panchgram in Hailakandi district today launched a protest demanding immediate steps to revive the mill, which has not been functioning since October 20 last year.

The Joint Trade Union Action Committee, a conglomeration of all the trade unions, took out a massive rally from the mill premises to garner support.

Manabendra Chakraborty, president of Cachar Paper Project Workers Union told The Telegraph they had made several representations to both the central and state governments urging to address the logjam in the mill.

"But all our pleas fell on deaf ears. As no concrete step has been taken to revive the industry, we decided to launch a movement which would continue for an infinite period till the government takes any positive step," he added.

The committee has called a 12-hour rail androad blockade on January 28.

A 12-hour dawn-to-dusk Hailakandi strike which was called by different social organisations protesting the lackadaisical attitude of the government towards the paper mill passed off peacefully today.

Union minister for sports and youth affairs Sarbananda Sonowal, who was in town for a youth conclave, said funds would be allocated in the next budget to revive the mill.

A Canadian consultancy firm, engaged by the Union ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises to revive the mill a few years ago, had suggested measures to upgrade paper production technology and to tone up its working capital availability.

The trade unions recently submitted a plan to the Union ministry for heavy industries and public enterprises, seeking allocation of Rs 1,000 crore for the modernisation of the mill and Rs 5,000 crore for the working capital.

Union minister of state for heavy industries and public enterprises G.M. Siddeshwara recently in a written reply to Silchar MP Sushmita Dev had said the Centre had provided financial assistance to the mill for meeting its operational costs on account of transportation.

"The government has also provided working capital support for the mill. But the government has no proposal for its modernisation."


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