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Ray of hope for ailing paper mills in Assam

“I am interested in buying the paper mills of Assam to help the workers who are in a pathetic condition," said B.R. Shetty

By Avik Chakraborty in Dibrugarh
  • Published 19.10.19, 12:57 AM
  • Updated 19.10.19, 12:57 AM
  • a min read
  •  
B.R. Shetty speaks at the news meet on Friday Picture by Avik Chakraborty

Hope has come calling on the ailing paper mills of Assam with Assam Company India Limited chairman B.R. Shetty showing interest in buying them.

Union minister of state for food processing industries Rameswar Teli told reporters at Maijan tea estate of Assam Company India Limited in Dibrugarh district on Friday that he, during a trip to Abu Dhabi earlier this month, had requested India-born and UAE-based businessman Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty to invest in the state, including buying the ailing Cachar and Nagaon paper mills, and the businessman had shown keen interest in the proposal.

“We have requested Dr B.R. Shetty to help us revive the Nagaon and Cachar paper mills, which have been defunct since October 2015 and March 2017 respectively. Discussions are on and very soon a fruitful result will come up,” Teli said.

Shetty said at the news meet, “I am interested in buying the paper mills of Assam to help the workers who are in a pathetic condition. Recently, I visited the paper mills and saw the plight of the workers.”

Shetty is the founder chairman of several companies based in the United Arab Emirates — BRS Ventures, NMC Healthcare, Neopharma and Finablr. He is also the chairman of UAE Exchange.

The billionaire businessman has already purchased 14 tea gardens in Assam.

He also proposes to set up world-class hospitals and luxury resorts in the state.

Cachar Paper Mill, the only major industrial undertaking in south Assam’s Barak Valley, is located at Panchgram in Hailakandi district and Nagaon Paper Mill is located at Jagiroad in Morigaon district. The mills’ workers have not received salaries for more than two and a half years.

On May 2, 2019, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had ordered liquidation of the two paper mills under Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited in Assam. The NCLT, a quasi-judicial body constituted by the Centre on June 1, 2016 under the Companies Act, 2013, adjudicates issues related to Indian companies.

However, on May 29, 2019, the NCLT’s order was overruled by the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), which directed the government to make the Nagaon and Cachar paper mills functional and retain the executives, staff and all other employees of the mills.

It also said that if the government wants to put the mills on auction, it should look after the employees.