Assam MLA stages sit-in protest against govt decision to teach maths, science in English in schools
File image of MLA Akhil Gogoi

Guwahati: Independent MLA Akhil Gogoi on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reconsider the proposal to auction two defunct paper mills of state-owned Hindustan Paper Corp in Assam.

In a letter to Modi, Gogoi said the government should revive and modernise the two units of Nagaon Paper Mill and Cachar Paper Mill in line with the NEPA mills in Madhya Pradesh and Hindustan Newsprint Ltd in Kerala.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party was kind enough to recognise the plight of these industries. In April, 2021, promises were made that the BJP-led government in Assam will not only revive the paper mills but augment production, increase bamboo production in Assam and scale-up paper distribution all over India.

“This was a matter of sheer happiness not only for those beleaguered employees, but also for Assam’s industrial prospects. However, the latest notice for an e-auction would indeed be a severe blow to all those promises,” Gogoi said.

He called on the PM to initiate measures to turn these into profitable enterprises like the ‘Navratnas’ and ‘Maharatnas’ of India.

Gogoi also made a case for optimal utilisation of the vast expanse of lands that the two mills own and develop them into industrial zones for Assam’s MSME industries.

Emphasising that the two plants were symbols of modern Assam’s economic prosperity after the oil and tea sectors, he said in the letter, “I hope you would look into the matter urgently so that the e-auctioning of the Nagaon and Cachar Mills could be cancelled.”

HPC’s Cachar unit in Panchgram stopped operations on October 20, 2015, while the Nagaon mill in Jagiroad did so on March 31, 2017. No salary was paid to the staff of Cachar and Nagaon units since January and March of 2017, respectively, officials said.

In June 2018, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) directed initiation of Corporate Insolvency Resolution Proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 against HPC, which had earlier submitted a Rs 1,995-crore revival proposal to the government.

Also read: SOS: Assam’s Nagaon Paper Mill is dying, so are its staff, kin

During the hearing, NCLT ordered liquidation of the two mills, although the BJP-led state government had been promising revival of the two plants since former Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal assumed power in 2016.

However, after several rounds of meetings between all stakeholders and a number of hearings, the NCLT on April 26 this year ordered the liquidator to sell HPC, as per the decision of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).

Accordingly, HPC Liquidator Kuldeep Verma on June 1 issued advertisements in newspapers of different languages seeking bids for e-auction of the company.

During the auction, all HPC assets, including the two mills, residential flats, office assets and a huge stock of inventory such as coal, unslaked lime, bamboo and limestone, will go under the hammer.

The reserve price for bids has been fixed at Rs 1,139 crore and the last date of submission is June 15. The auction is slated for June 30.

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