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Regular-article-logo Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Mill workers stare at eviction as deadline approaches

The employees have vowed not to comply with the order unless all their dues are cleared

Swapnaneel Bhattacharjee Silchar Published 12.01.20, 08:24 PM
A quarter of Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district.

A quarter of Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Hailakandi district. Picture by Swapnaneel Bhattacharjee

The employees of the two paper mills in Assam and their families are in a dilemma with a crucial deadline approaching for them to vacate their quarters.

By January 31, according to a recent order by the Hindustan Paper Corporation’s liquidator, all the HPC quarters have to be vacated.

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The employees, however, have vowed not to comply with the order unless all their dues are cleared.

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. Their workers have not received their salaries for the past 36 and 34 months respectively.

The HPC’s liquidator had ordered on December 23 last year that all the quarters have to be vacated by January 31.

The order has apparently “set the ball rolling” for the liquidation process, as ordered by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) on May 2 last year.

The general secretary of the Cachar Paper Mill Officers’ and Supervisors’

Association, Dipak Chandra Nath, told The Telegraph on Sunday that the mill’s employees are resolute on not abiding by the order, but are apprehensive about their future. “The fear of becoming homeless, accompanied with uncertainty about the future, is haunting them incessantly,” he said.

“Currently, there are around 300 families staying in the mill’s quarters. The employees have not got their salaries for the past three years. Where will they go? How will they survive?” he asked.

He said they have communicated to the mill’s management that the employees would not leave the quarters until all their dues are remitted.

“We will explore legal options if the employees are pressured to vacate the quarters,” he said. He also appealed to the government to initiate prompt measures to “do something” and stop the order of vacating the quarters. Manabendra Chakraborty, the president of the Joint Action Committee of Recognised Unions of the two mills, said the employees of Nagaon Paper Mill are apprehensive too, but they are adamant on the issue of their dues.

“The government will have to go over our dead bodies if it puts pressure on us to vacate the quarters,” he said.

He said there are over 600 families staying in the Nagaon mill’s quarters at present. “We are not going to comply with the order unless our demand is fulfilled, no matter what,” he said.

Karimganj North MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, who visited the Cachar Paper Mill recently and provided financial assistance and study materials to the employees’ children, questioned how much more the government is going to torture the employees of the mills.

“Many persons (mills’ employees) have already died, still the Dhritarashtra Sarkar (government) is showing no sign to wake up from its slumber,” he said.

He held the government responsible for the death of the employees and demanded that all the dues of the employees be cleared at the earliest.

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