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Regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

Gauhati HC nudges govt on mill staff salaries

'All the employees and their families will die if the pending salaries are not paid soon'

Swapnaneel Bhattacharjee Silchar Published 06.02.20, 07:12 PM
The premises of Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district

The premises of Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district Picture by Swapnaneel Bhattacharjee

Gauhati High Court on Thursday directed the government to clarify why the amount of Rs 90 crore sanctioned in Parliament in 2018 for payment of the pending salaries of the employees of Assam’s defunct paper mills had not been cleared.

The court, which gave the order during a hearing in connection with a petition, asked the government to submit a clarification on February 24, the next date of hearing, failing which it would give the order for release of the money on that day.

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The 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 and their employees have not received salaries for the past 36 and 34 months respectively.

The general secretary of Cachar Paper Mill Officers’ and Supervisors’ Association, Dipak Chandra Nath, told The Telegraph from Guwahati that the petition was filed with the high court by different unions in August 2019, seeking clearance of the Rs 90 crore.

The court, during the hearing on Thursday, asked the government’s advocate whether any order was issued by any authority to not release the money, he said.

Nath, who was present during the hearing, said the court’s order had shaped the matter in a “positive direction” and that he was confident that the judiciary would end their miseries.

The chief convener of Hindustan Paper Mills Revival Action Committee, Manabendra Chakraborty, alleged that the government had intentionally tortured the mills’ employees by not releasing the money. He said 62 employees have died since the mills stopped functioning but the government is totally in a slumber.

“All the employees and their families will die if the pending salaries are not paid soon,” he said.

Chakraborty, who has spearheaded several protests over the mills’ issue, said the government had shoved the mills’ employees to such a pathetic condition that their children were begging on the streets to arrange money for their education.

He demanded that all the dues of the employees be cleared at the earliest and threatened to intensify protests if their demand was not fulfilled soon.

He appealed to all the organisations and civil society groups not only in the Barak Valley but across Assam to come together and launch a strong and united movement to save the mills and their employees.

The Kagaj Kal Banchao Joutha Mancha, a conglomerate of trade unions and organisations, will stage a protest in front of Khudiram statue here on Friday over various issues, especially regarding its demand for revival of the mills and payment of the employees’ dues.

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