Tribunal orders Assam paper mills’ liquidation

The mills have been non-functional for the past few years

By Swapnaneel Bhattacharjee in Silchar
  • Published 3.05.19, 12:11 AM
  • Updated 3.05.19, 12:11 AM
  • 2 mins read
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The Cachar paper mill A file picture

The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in New Delhi on Thursday ordered liquidation of the two paper mills under Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited in Assam, which have been non-functional for the past few years. The order is expected in a couple of days.

Cachar Paper Mill and Nagaon Paper Mill have been non-functional since October 2015 and March 2017 respectively and the workers have not received their salaries for more than two years.

Cachar Paper Mill, the only major industrial undertaking in south Assam’s Barak Valley, is located at Panchgram in Hailakandi district, around 24km from here. The Nagaon mill is at Jagiroad in Morigaon district, around 332km from here.

Speaking to The Telegraph over phone from New Delhi on Thursday, Manobendra Chakraborty, the chief convener of the HPC Paper Mills Revival Action Committee, a conglomerate of workers’ unions of the two paper mills, said a hearing was held in connection with the mills’ issue on Thursday afternoon and the court had ordered liquidation of the mills, he said.

Chakraborty, who was present in court (NCLT) on Thursday and witnessed the hearing, said the “government intentionally dealt with the process in such a manner that the matter reached the court” and the industrial units go under the control of private parties. “Promises made by the government, including Prime Minister and chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal about the mills’ revival and payment of pending salaries were nothing but hogwash,” he said.

He said they would decide their course of action after getting a copy of the order.

“Altogether 55 employees have died since the mills ceased to function. The government has killed all these people. Many more are on the verge of death,” he said.

The latest death was on April 29 when an employee of Nagaon Paper Mill, Biswajit Mazumdar, 55, was found hanging in his official quarters. A suicide note, purportedly written by him, saying “I quit. GOI (Government of India) is responsible for my death” was found in the room.

The Nagaon paper mill
The Nagaon paper mill A file picture

The NCLT, a quasi-judicial body under the Centre, adjudicates issues related to Indian companies. It was established under the Companies Act, 2013 and constituted on June 1, 2016 by the Centre.

A senior official of Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd confirmed the liquidation order to The Telegraph. “The NCLT has given the order for liquidation. However, the official order copy is yet to be received. According to norms, the service of all employees gets terminated from the date of passing of the order. We do not know whether to come to office tomorrow or not,” the official said.

A committee, according to the directive of the NCLT, will be formed soon to initiate the liquidation proceedings, he said. In this case, the operational creditors will stake first claim.

On being asked when the liquidation process is expected/likely to begin, the official said he did not know. He said the additional solicitor general represented the government of India in court.

Karimganj North Congress legislator Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha said the Narendra Modi government has pushed lakhs of people towards doom. “This government has snatched employment from a large number of people and left them hopeless and helpless,” he said. He claimed the BJP would get a “strong reply” for its deeds on May 23 (when the results of the Lok Sabha elections are declared).