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Mills’ workers mull save-home appeal

The HPC liquidator on December 23, 2019, ordered that all the HPC quarters be vacated by January 31, 2020
Cachar Paper Mill in Hailakandi district and Nagaon Paper Mill in Morigaon district, have been lying non-functional since October 2015 and March 2017 respectively.

Swapnaneel Bhattacharjee   |   Silchar   |   Published 21.01.20, 08:40 PM

The unions and associations of the two paper mills in Assam will submit a representation to Hindustan Paper Corporation (HPC)’s liquidator soon with the appeal to withdraw his order of vacating the mills’ quarters.

The HPC liquidator on December 23, 2019, ordered that all the HPC quarters be vacated by January 31, 2020. The order was apparently the first move to start the HPC liquidation process, as ordered by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on May 2, 2019.

Dipak Chandra Nath, general secretary of the Cachar Paper Mill Officers’ and Supervisors’ Association, told The Telegraph on Tuesday that they and a few other unions and associations of the mills would submit a representation to the liquidator in the next couple of days and place an appeal before him to withdraw his order of vacating the quarters by January 31. If not withdrawn, the order should at least be kept in abeyance till all the dues of the employees are remitted, he added.

Nath said a hearing would be held at Gauhati High Court on February 6 over a petition filed by different unions seeking clearance of Rs 90 crore, which was sanctioned in Parliament in 2018 for payment of employees’ salaries. He hoped the judicial system would save them from doom, gradually approaching towards them in the form of poverty, apprehension and trauma.

Manabendra Chakraborty, president of the Joint Action Committee of Recognised Unions of the two mills, said they would not let anyone vacate the quarters unless the employees’ dues are cleared. “If they (authorities) forcefully try to vacate the quarters, they will have to go over our bodies,” he said.

The paper mills, Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district and Nagaon Paper Mill at Jagiroad in Morigaon district, have been lying non-functional since October 2015 and March 2017 respectively. Their employees have not received salaries for the past 36 and 34 months.

Chakraborty, who has spearheaded several protests over the issue of the mills’ revival and clearance of the employees’ pending salaries, expressed deep concern over the fate of the mills’ employees if they are thrown out of their homes. “They are already suffering unimaginably because of financial crunch. Where will they go? This will be equal to pushing them to death.”

Talking about the Cachar Paper Mill, the only industry in Barak Valley, he slammed the BJP MPs and MLAs of the valley for not coming forward for the employees who are staring at an uncertain future. “The mill’s employees are suffering and their children are down on the streets begging but they (BJP MPs and MLAs of the valley) are totally indifferent,” he rued.

Supriyo Bhattacharjee, convener of Kagaj Kal Banchao Joutha Mancha, appea-led to the authorities to revoke the order of vacating the HPC’s quarters. “We will not accept this. The authorities will be responsible if law-and-order situation deteriorates over this issue,” he warned.

He said they would stage a sit-in in front of the Cachar deputy commissioner’s office here on February 7 to press for their demands of the mills’ revival and payment of salaries.

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