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Regular-article-logo Sunday, 26 May 2024

Govt wakes up to defunct paper mill employees kids’ plight

Announcement came at a time when employees of Cachar Paper Mill and Nagaon Paper Mill are struggling to make ends meet

A Staff Reporter Guwahati Published 09.01.20, 07:25 PM
The premises of the Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district.

The premises of the Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district. (The Telegraph file picture)

The Assam government on Thursday announced one-time financial assistance to the children of the employees of two defunct paper mills to pursue their studies.

The children had hit the headlines after they were found “begging” on the streets to raise funds for their education, a development which saw the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) assure during a public rally against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Morigaon district that it will aid their studies. After the anti-CAA protests intensified, Dispur unveiled several welfare measures, which protesters claim are a ploy to dilute the agitation against a law which they say poses a threat to the culture and identity of the Assamese people.

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Cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said here that the children of a paper mill employee will get Rs 1 lakh if they pursue PhD, medical, engineering and similar professional courses, Rs 75,000 if they pursue post-graduation in universities and similar institutions, Rs 50,000 for graduation, polytechnic and similar courses, Rs 25,000 for a higher secondary student and Rs 10,000 for those up to class X.

The announcement came at a time when employees of Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district and Nagaon Paper Mill at Jagiroad in Morigaon district are struggling to make ends meet. The employees have not received salaries for over three years and over 30 months respectively. To compound their woes, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has ordered liquidation of the mills and told the employees to vacate their official quarters by January 31. The state government, however, said last month that the employees will not have to vacate quarters till a solution was found but they did not buy into the assurance.

Extending the financial support, Sarma said, “We will open a separate portal on the finance department website, where the students will be able to apply between April 14 and 20. No documents need to be uploaded. The deputy commissioners of the two districts will carry out the required verification and the money will be deposited in the bank accounts of the students next month.”

He, however, said the children of retired employees will not be eligible for the assistance.

A student, whose father is an employee of Nagaon Paper Mill, said she will convey her gratitude once the money lands in her account.

Besides, Sarma said the government, with effect from January, has covered the 50,000 contractual employees of National Health Mission (NHM) and their dependents under a scheme which will provide medical reimbursement up to Rs 5 lakh. He said contractual teachers, who cleared the teacher eligibility test (TET), would be covered under the scheme within a couple of months.

Sarma also announced a scheme under which four per cent interest subsidy will be given to Divyang employees to purchase two-wheelers and cars.

According to Sarma, over one lakh contractual employees will benefit from these steps.

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